Our grandmothers and great grandmothers probably grew roses that were prized for their scent, hips and decorative value. They were also valued for use in vases and for exhibiting. The exhibiting qualities of the rose lead to developers improving the rose to give them lovely long stems and perfectly formed buds and blooms. Along the way, the scent was compromised and roses got a name for being difficult to grow. Gardeners everywhere had to deal with black spot and aphids and even then the plants sulked in hot weather.
Then along came the Knockout® series and roses were easy to grow in every garden. They were so easy in fact that the medians in roads and commercial properties planted them in abundance. But when originally developed, there was no scent which is what a lot of gardeners wanted. So, the trade got to work and now we have a range of easy to grow, scented roses to choose from. Knockout has gone on to develop a beautiful yellow scented rose.
David Austin Roses also have several roses that have wonderful scent and come in a variety of colors and blooms. The English shrub roses grow to between 3 and 4 feet in height and 2-3 feet across so they fit into most gardens. The ‘cabbage’- like blooms are perfect for arrangements as well as admiring in the garden. ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ and ‘Munstead Wood’ both have that traditional musky rose scent. ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ is a deep pink, double bloom while ‘Munstead Wood’ has a dark, burgundy colored bloom. Both roses are available through retailers and the David Austin Rose site.
Proven Winners also have a lovely scented shrub rose called ‘At Last’ which has peach colored blooms. The bud on this rose is rosy-red and the blooms are traditional, maturing to the yellow-peach color. ‘At Last’ grows to 3 foot in both height and width making it easy to grow in most garden. ‘At Last’ is available through most garden centers that carry the Proven Winner lines.
In the garden, most modern roses are disease resistant and tend not to be worried by deer or other rodents. Mitigate damage from aphids or Japanese Beetles by treating as soon as you see them.
Plant roses in full sun, in well-drained soil and fertilize the roses every spring with a general garden fertilizer such as Natural Start All Purpose Plant Food. Repeat the application when the buds start to form. In northern climates where stretches of 90+degree days are rare, give a third application mid-way through the growing season (July). Further south, roses tend to take a break in blooming when the heat is sustained for several weeks. In these areas, delay the third fertilization until there is a break in the weather and buds start forming again (September). Avoid fertilizing when temperatures are above 85 degrees and always gently work granular fertilizer into the soil around the rose bush and water the plant well.
by Kate Copsey, Garden Writer and Author