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Diggin' It

Some roses have it made in the shade, the Rose Whisperer says

By Lynn Hunt / June 12, 2009

Even though the bush doesn't receive full sun, the English rose Teasing Georgia is a stellar performer.

Photos courtesy of Lynn Hunt.

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When we first start planning and planting our gardens, I wonder how many of us think about what may happen down the road.

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I know I didn’t.

As someone who has moved around quite a bit, I never really had to consider what my yard might look like in 10  or 20 years.  Now that I’ve been in the same location for a good while, I’ve made an amazing discovery: Trees actually grow! Which means some of my beds that once basked in the sun all day don’t catch as many rays anymore.

Not only did our ugly “swamp” maples get bigger, our neighbors’ trees expanded, too, overshadowing much of my husband’s little veggie patch and a number of my favorite roses.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The tomatoes don’t like it, but there are many roses and climbers that don’t mind a bit of shade at all.

According to Paul Zimmerman of Ashdown Roses, most roses prefer full sun but many can do well in dappled light, especially if they get a few hours of morning sun. He notes that certain classes of roses do better in partial shade including hybrid musks and polyanthas. Singles (roses with eight or fewer petals) are also good choices.

Hybrid musk roses are excellent garden shrubs, and many are useful as climbers or pillars. They generally have beautiful foliage, vigor, and an unforgettable fragrance. Lavender Lassie (see photo above right), Buff Beauty, and Ballerina are three of the best.

Polyanthas are overlooked garden gems. They are forerunners to today’s floribundas and miniatures, but certainly deserve a place in more gardens (and deserve their moment in the sun in an upcoming posting of The Rose Whisperer.) Many gardeners are familiar with The Fairy rose, but there are a number of other superb polyanthas that will also bloom prolifically and perform in just about any location.

As Paul suggested, roses with fewer petals are have a better chance to thrive in low light conditions. Knock Out, Blushing Knock Out, and Rainbow Knock Out are all recommended for partial shade.

Of course, we all admire Knock Outs, but sometimes we yearn for something a bit flashier. Bonica, James Galway, Aloha, Cecile Brunner, New Dawn, Playboy, Jude the Obscure (second photo above), and Roseraie de l’Hay are also good bets for shady positions.

In my garden, Teasing Georgia  (which sports 110 petals; see first photo above) lives with only a couple hours of morning sun, but blooms from late May till November. She may be a shady lady, but when it comes to coping with less-than-perfect growing conditions, Georgia really shines.

Psssst: Disease resistance and good drainage are two important factors that can spell the difference between success and failure with roses in lower light situations.

To read more by The Rose Whisperer, click here and go to the links at the bottom of the post.

Note: You have only a few more days to enter the Monitor’s first monthly garden photo contest at the Gardening With the Monitor site on Flickr. All photos posted on the site by the end of Monday, June 15 will be judged by our photo staff. We hope to announce the winners by the end of next week.

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