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Climbing roses add a unique vertical element
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Climbing plants really add a vertical dimension to the landscape. Adding this new element to a garden causes a transformation that almost no other type of plant can accomplish.
Climbing roses are seeing an upswing in popularity for this very reason. One of my favorites is New Dawn, which certainly is not new. It originated from the variety Dr. W. Van Fleet in 1930, but New Dawn is a repeat bloomer. In a way, it seems new since many gardeners are just now discovering this terrific large-flowered climber.
Another climber that is riding a wave of popularity is Peggy Martin. The historic rose by the same name garnered nationwide attention by surviving 20 feet of salt water. It has gained attention among gardeners and rose lovers as a persevering plant. It reflects a spirit of renewal and hope in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's devastating blow against those living and gardening in the Gulf Coast area. Since then, several large nurseries have introduced it for sale.
Bill Welch, author of Antique Roses for the South says, “Growers are generously donating $1 per plant to the Greater Houston Community Foundation, with the purpose of assisting in the task of garden restoration projects in New Orleans, Beaumont and other Gulf Coast locations.
With its good looks and healthy vigor, the ‘Peggy Martin Rose' is well on its way to becoming a classic garden mainstay for those wanting a mannerly climber that is thornless, with abundant pink clusters of small flowers. After it has become established, it re-blooms in the fall when the hot temperatures moderate.”
Another must-have to consider is the Lady Banks rose. It is at the top of my list because it is among the most disease-resistant roses we can grow. You will probably never see blackspot or powdery mildew on this rose. It is also among the most drought-tolerant roses, able to withstand extended drought.
If you have ever tangled with a rose bush, you may feel as though you were on the losing end of a fight with a bobcat. You will never feel that way with Lady Banks because like the Peggy Martin, it is thornless.
The Lady Banks, or Rosa banksiae normalis, has been in cultivation since 1796. An improved double-flowered white form, Rosa banksiae banksiae, was found in 1807. Then in 1824 the double-yellow form, Rosa banksiae lutescens, was discovered.
The white-flowered forms have more fragrance than the yellow, but the yellow has become the most popular. To call this a large, spreading rose may be an understatement.
The largest rose bush in the world is a Lady Banks in Tombstone, Ariz. It covers more than 8,000 square feet. Because of its spreading nature, you will want to manage this rose. The Lady Banks is a long-lived rose; the one in Arizona was planted in 1855.
All varieties of climbing roses produce long canes and require some support to hold plants up off the ground. They don't really climb by themselves but must be tied or trained to the trellis, wall, fence or arbor. Climbing roses can be used on sloping banks to aid in holding soil. Climbers, like bush roses, are grouped into several types with much overlapping among types. Most rose nurseries list ramblers, large-flower climbers, ever-blooming hybrid teas, climbing polyanthas, climbing floribundas and trailing roses.
So why not try to “grow up” this year on a trellis, arbor or fence with a climbing rose.