People are busier than ever before. With everyone on information and scheduling overload, we are often left with little time taking care of our gardens. Just because you're busy doesn't mean you can't grow beautiful roses. Roses designated as "Earth Kind" are proven performers in the garden. I recently had a conversation on Rose Chat Radio with Dr. Steve George, Program founder and coordinator of the Earth Kind Argilife program at Texas A & M University. He told me that their research had concluded that consumers want beautiful gardens without all the fuss. "Beautiful roses for busy people" was the term he used and after growing several varieties of Earth Kind roses, I couldn't agree more.
The goal of this research study is to test and evaluate rose cultivars that can stand the rigors of neglect. They look for roses that are pest tolerant, disease resistant and are superior garden performers. The trial process for designation as an Earth Kind variety is rigorous. "The first year, we just plant them, give them a little water and leave them alone. No spray for disease. No spray for pests and no fertilizers; just a three-inch layer of mulch" said Dr. George. The goal is to see how they perform in the extreme heat, poor soil and drought conditions often found in North Texas. If they can perform there, they are very likely can grow in many parts of the U.S. (Zones 5-9) According to Dr. George; "the second year we reduce the water by 70% and continue with no spray for disease or pests. We don't even dead head them."(remove spent blooms) . This process is repeated over a period of eight years before even being considered for the prestigious "Earth Kind" designation. The end result is the most thoroughly tested and researched and environmentally responsible roses available in commerce today.
Here are my picks for Earth Kind roses. There is something for everyone here:
'The Fairy' - This shrub produces a profusion of tiny pink blooms on a single stem. The blooms fade to a lighter pink in the heat of summer. This shrub is great for small landscaping spaces; generally only reaching three feet tall. It also makes a great rose for containers. Its low growth habit looks great spilling out of a container.
'Caldwell Pink' aka Pink Pet and some even call it the "summer carnation rose" as it produces a perfect round bloom with a green button center. Though its proper name remains a mystery its bloom power does not. This rose has disease resistance and tolerance to the heat. I have two shrubs of this rose in my garden and they bloom like mad all summer long.
' Belinda's Dream' - this pink rose was introduced by Dr. Robert Bayse, a professor at Texas A & M and was named after the daughter of a friend. This rose grows and blooms like a modern hybrid tea, with single blooms per stem, yet has the disease resistance and soil tolerance that can only be found in roses with the "Earth Kind" designation.
'New Dawn' - this vigorous climber is a show stopper in spring and throughout the blooms season. It was the first rose to be granted a plant patent and is known to have some shade tolerance as well as disease and soil tolerance. It will require a sturdy structure or trellis. As the canes mature they can be difficult to work with, but the effort is well worth it during bloom season.
So, if you're busy and don't have much time to spend in the garden, give these roses a chance. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.