Survival of the Rosiest

By Kate Bryant May 25, 2012 Published in the June 2012 issue of Portland Monthly

SUMMER IN THE CITY: Even in Portland, roses have acquired a reputation as needy, gawky, and disease-prone. You can thank the cut-flower industry: florists’ market demands encouraged the development of flowers built for bouquets rather than gardens. But in recent years, the hippest local nurseries have reintroduced disease-resistant roses to the Northwest gardening palette. These roses look great in a shrub bed, have marvelous foliage, and often flower continuously with little or no attention. Watch for charming-yet-tough shrub roses from Xera Plants (like the vibrant Rosa Radway Sunrise) or head down to Heirloom Roses in St. Paul, where you can find superior own-root (nongrafted) roses, both cool and old fashioned. Try drought-tolerant Rose de Rescht, medicinal roses like Rosa chinensis_, damask roses for perfumery, edible-hipped types (Rosa rugosa), and roses with stunning, smoky blue foliage like Rosa glauca or Rosa pteracantha, with dazzling, garnet-red thorns.

IN THE GARDEN: Your spring-flowering shrubs are calling—for pruning. Most common types of lilac, japonica-type camellias, forsythia, flowering quince, rhododendrons, and azaleas are best trimmed right after flowering. Don’t wait until July or you might behead next spring’s flower buds. Houseplants can now be brought outdoors, preferably on a warm day, out of direct sun and wind. Move sun-lovers into brighter light gradually.

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