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Gardening with the MultiCare grounds crew: choosing rose plants

Posted on Apr. 23, 2013 ( comments)
Brian Pasic, groundkeeping supervisor, carries a rose plant during last year's rose sale.

Rose gardens have been a staple at MultiCare Health System since 1989, when a garden of 89 rose plants was planted across the street from MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital to honor Gertrude E.V. Baker, founding president of Mary Bridge Brigade (formerly Tacoma Orthopedic Association). Today, a team of horticulturalists and groundskeepers tend more than 2,100 rose plants decorating MultiCare facilities around the South Puget Sound.

Spring is here, and not only is it a great time to plant new shrubs, such as roses, it is also when the selection of roses at local nurseries is at its best.

There are hundreds of cultivars available, and new ones are introduced each year, so how does one decide which rose to plant? To an experienced rose grower, testing out new or unknown varieties can be an exciting prospect. But to those less experienced, or those with space enough in their gardens for only a limited number of roses, selecting the right variety is more important.

When picking out a rose, there are many factors to consider:

  • What size will it eventually reach?
  • How much maintenance will it require?
  • Is it disease resistant?
  • Fragrant, or not?
  • Will it produce blooms over a long period of time, or is it one and done?

Roses for Novice Growers

Novice growers, or those with little time to devote to rose maintenance, may wish to choose from among the class of wild roses, which have simple, five-petal flowers which are followed by hips. One example of these wild roses is the native Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana). Other low maintenance selections include groundcover roses, such as carpet roses, and shrub roses such as Knock Out. Both of which have proven to do well in our gardens with very little maintenance. Rugosa roses are another option, but be prepared to give them plenty of room, as they can get rather large and tend to sucker freely.

Roses for the more adventurous gardener

For experienced growers, or for those who are more adventurous, there are many other types of roses to choose, like climbers, ramblers, English roses, floribundas, and the ever-popular hybrid teas – each containing a multitude of named varieties. Local garden centers are generally the best places to find varieties that are best suited to our area. In addition, knowledgeable staff members at the center are a valuable resource for helping determine which varieties are right for you.

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