Women went to work during World War II with the aviation industry seeing the greatest increase in female workers. Fueled by the U.S. government’s “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda campaign 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the workforce! The bandanna-clad Rosie became an iconic image of working women in the World War II era. Flexing her muscles Rosie said “We can do it!”
Things can look “rosie” and “riveting” in your garden today and you can do it! Plant breeding in the past 10 to 20 years has developed landscape roses that are hardy, prolific bloomers with little maintenance. Known as “shrub” roses they are grown on their own root instead of grafted making them versatile and durable.
Roses are still divas in the landscape requiring a lot of sunlight to bloom at their peak performance. Try to plant in an area that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight during the growing season. They are also heavy feeders so make sure to fertilize with a complete rose fertilizer in spring and summer. The great thing about shrub or own root landscape roses is they tend to keep blooming well into October, sometimes even November.
With the interest in groundcover alternatives to turf remember that these new generation roses also are available as “groundcover” or spreading roses. Varieties like ‘Drift’ roses cover a lot of space with color. Sometimes plants we consider to be vines can instead be allowed without support to spread on the ground in difficult to maintain areas like a sunny slope and effectively fill the space. Air circulation is always important with roses so don’t over crowd them with other plants. I have found some that ornamental grasses are good companions with roses providing a great backdrop for their continuous summer into fall color. Blue is a desirable color in the landscape making the sun loving Nepeta and Lavender a great choice to partner with your roses. Also consider Heliotrope as the sun loving perennial that will show off with the roses at peak bloom time in mid-summer.
When planting those “riveting” landscape roses I recommend against mixing colors. Plant at least three of the same together for impact. Visually it is far more impactful and as with most landscapes odd numbered plantings usually look the most natural.
Today’s landscape roses and ground cover roses don’t require tricky pruning, but regular pruning will keep plants compact. No need to prune these “self cleaning” roses like we pruned the large hybrid tea roses in the past to get them to rebloom. Simply prune as needed to keep size in check a couple times a year. You can prune plants back annually by one-third to one-half to encourage fresh growth.