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Diggin' It

Want an easy-care rose that's also beautiful?

The Buck rose is hardy and beautiful. It's an easy-care rose that's proven to thrive in areas with hot summers.

By Donna Williamson / April 2, 2010

Buck roses were still blooming on Thanksgiving last year..

Courtesy of Donna Williamson

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When spring comes, it comes in a mad rush. As a garden designer and coach, this is a busy time of year for me.

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But today, I canceled my scheduled task – looking for invasive plants under big deciduous trees at a lovely property – due to high winds. So I had some unexpected time for my own garden.

Today I pruned my Buck roses. If you haven’t met them yet, you're in for a treat.

Griffith Buck hybridized roses in Iowa for many years and tested them by placing them outside the greenhouse with no special care. If they survived the hot, humid summers without developing blackspot and other leaf-dropping diseases, the plants might make it through the winter and then, get a name.

Dr. Buck is no longer with us, and he gave away many of his roses, but folks all over the country are tracking them down and propagating them for us.

Buck’s ‘Quietness’, an exquisite white shrub rose, has just been named as the top rose by the New York Botanical Garden rose folks. Other favorites of mine include ‘Hawkeye Belle’, ‘Allamand-Ho’,‘Distant Drums’, ‘Country Dancer’, and ‘Winter Sunset’.

You will need to find them through mail-order sources, as they are not often part of the “rose assortment” sent to landscape nurseries each year by the mega-rose companies.

As an extra bonus, most of these mail-order roses are on their own roots rather than grafted. That means that if the young ones die back to the ground in winter, the roots may survive and it will grow back as the same rose, not some lanky multiflora. Roses Unlimited in South Carolina has a nice selection of Buck roses and I’ve been pleased with the size and health of its plants.

The first photo above shows a variety of Buck roses I brought indoors for Thanksgiving last year.

I'm celebrating spring with the other photos [click at the base of the first one to go to Nos. 2, 3, and 4]. This is what I saw on my journey through the garden – Greeting me as I raked and pruned were shiny pachysandra, vibrant sedum, and bright green sorrel.

What a day!

Donna Williamson is one of nine garden writers who blog weekly at Diggin' It. She's a master gardener, garden designer, and garden coach. She has taught gardening and design classes at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Oatlands in Leesburg, and Shenandoah University. She’s also the founder and editor of Grandiflora Mid-Atlantic Gardening magazine, and the author of “The Virginia Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia.” She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

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