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MARK AND BEN CULLEN: No longer is a rose bush part of a ‘collection’

Roses
Roses - Submitted

The idea of collecting rose bushes is dead.

For generations, a sunny yard included a ‘rose garden’ somewhere. In the early days of Weall and Cullen Nurseries, our family business, retail customers would buy wagon loads of rose bushes each spring.

Canadians have not lost their love of the rose, they have simply shifted focus. No longer is a rose bush part of a ‘collection’.

Instead, roses are a part of a greater whole, integrated into landscapes that serve many purposes.

There are many myths that surround the idea of planting roses. Many people think of insect and disease problems when they think of roses.

We are here to dispel some myths and open your eyes to the potential that roses may hold for you.

First, new roses are resistant to disease. It is a requirement for new rose introductions to be black spot and powdery mildew-free as changing demands of consumers calls for it.

If “low maintenance” is a key selling feature when shopping for plants in your garden, we have the following roses for you to consider:

Oso Easy

These patented roses from the Proven Winners group are as disease resistant and ever-blooming as a rose can get.

There are many flowering shrubs in the Proven Winners line up, including hydrangeas, weigelas and more. All of them are thoroughly garden-tested before they go to market.

They are well named.

Mark has grown several varieties of Oso Easy roses in his 10-acre garden and he is very happy with the results.

With over 50 roses, these are stand-outs. Varieties range in height from 50 cm (Paprika) to 120 cm (Urban Legend).

Knock Out

Very winter hardy, Knock Out’s do not require winterizing (mounding of soil around the base of the plant each autumn). This family is perhaps best suited for mass planting.

Thinking of a hedge or an area in your garden where you want loads of colour? Knock Outs could do the job for you.

Five varieties range in size from a metre high to a metre and a half.

David Austin

We have saved Mark’s favourite family of new roses to last (almost). He has four varieties of David Austin’s growing in his garden.

Every one of them is exceptionally fragrant, fully double, disease resistant and an impressive addition to his extensive perennial collection.

Our favourites are Abraham Darby (apricot yellow, 1 ½ metres) and Heritage (soft, clear pink 1.25 metres). Amazing when cut and brought indoors to enjoy.

Canadian Shield

This new introduction from Vineland Research and Innovation is a great new rose bush. A shrub rose, it matures to 125 cm high, has a soft, sweet fragrance and is extremely winter hardy.

When shopping for roses, be sure to look for ‘Canadian Gown’ on the label. This is your assurance that the plants are acclimatised to our cold winters.

Be sure to plant in quality triple mix and add one-part worm castings to every 10 parts soil for the best performance.

Water well at the time of planting and throughout the season, try to keep moisture off the foliage when you hand water, to avoid encouraging black spot and powdery mildew.

Even on ‘resistant’ varieties it is best to be ‘water wise’.

Note that all roses require a minimum of six hours of sunshine per day to perform at their best.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and holds the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @markcullengardening, on Facebook and bi-weekly on Global TV’s National Morning Show.

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