Rose of the Month #12
By Gaird Hamilton
Rosa Rugosa Rubra
I am writing this in the aftermath of a huge very wet, wild, and windy storm. We spent a day without electricity during which I used a chainsaw to cut away the sections of two trees which fell across our neighbors driveway, and the driveway beyond that. The wind blew the roof off of our chicken pen, and blew three miniature roses off of the rail in our arbor which went splat on the deck below. How could I pick a Rose of the Month?
Actually the weather combined with the fact that we are quite a ways behind in our gardening chores made the decision an easy one to make. What rose is the easiest to care for, needing no spraying, no pruning unless you want to shape it a little, likes it fine without fertilizer, will grow right down to the sandy beaches along the seacoast, and yet can take the cold frozen climate of places like Bend, Oregon, where you can walk on frozen ponds in the winter, where it gets well below zero, and where we got our rosa rugosa rubra. It was a few small rooted stems from the edge of a nice big bush which we brought home and planted near our water tank. That was in 1996, and that was the last work which we had to do on it. Oh, we had to cut some of the branches out of the path a time or two, but in return it has grown to about eight feet tall, has the most beautiful leaves ever put on a rose, has a continuous show of magenta-purple very large single flowers, and follows that up with an abundant display of large orange hips which are a show in themselves. We made some very fine rose hip tea from them this winter, great for health.
Rosa Rugosa Rubra is a species rose and is rated a 9.2 in the Handbook for Selecting Roses. For purposes of showing it in a rose show, it’s date is considered to be 1784, and it does sometimes win awards. For a guy who right now is feeling kind of tired, its easy care, healthy natural beauty makes it sound like a perfect rose.