Book review: Growing roses in Calgary.

It looks like we’re in for a couple of really soggy days, which will make getting into the flowerbeds a bit of a nightmare.  I was hoping to do some bed clean up and apply compost and mulch this weekend, but it looks like I’ll be cozying up with a good book instead.  Not a bad option, mind you!  😉

A really good book that I’ve recently had the pleasure of perusing is the Calgary Rose Society’s Growing Roses in Calgary (2010).  The only rose I have at the moment is a double-flowering mini that my former landlady “gave” me to look after on her behalf.  Her granddaughter had picked it up from a grocery store floral kiosk and she was fearful that it wouldn’t make it a month indoors (she was probably right), so it ended up outside.  It has actually performed quite well for (going on) seven summers.

I would love to grow a real rose garden, full of hardy Parklands and Explorers, tough roses that can withstand Calgary’s crazy climate.  We sit at hardiness zone 3a, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at an altitude of 1084 metres (3557 feet),and we have really weird winters with alternating cold, excessive snow, balmy Chinooks, and drought.   The summers that follow are often too wet or too dry, replete with massive hailstorms and cool Prairie nights.  On top of it all, our soil is hardly ideal – it’s alkaline and chockful of clay.  It’s a challenge growing anything here, much less roses, which is why the Rose Society decided we needed our own guidebook.

If you can get past the insanely gorgeous photographs in this book (I dare you to choose only one favourite flower!), there is a TON of information on how to grow both hardy and tender roses here in Cowtown – or anywhere with a difficult climate.  Everything is here:  planting and cultural tips, container growing, propagation, trouble shooting, landscaping designs, organic growing solutions, and, of course, plant selection.   If you’re thinking about growing roses in Calgary, find a copy of this book before you start digging (and buying) – it’s like having the entire Rose Society’s membership and all of their wealth of knowledge and experience on call, 24-7.  And did I mention the pretty pictures?



Okay.  If I could pick my favourite hardy rose, it would probably be the Parkland (Morden) selection ‘Hope for Humanity’ (Rosa x ‘Hope for Humanity’), a blood-red double that was first introduced in 1995, and chosen to honour the Canadian Red Cross upon its 100th anniversary in 2009.  I was working in a garden centre in the summer prior, and we could not keep ‘Hope for Humanity’ on our racks – customers were clamouring to buy them and our suppliers couldn’t get them to us quickly enough.

Oh, but wait.  There’s ‘Morden Sunrise’ and ‘Morden Blush.’  I simply adore the multi-hued roses…and what about ‘Winnipeg Parks’ and ‘Adelaide Hoodless’?  And the Canadian Artist Series?  And…?

What are your favourite roses (hardy or otherwise)?  Are you growing roses in your garden?

Related postsPerfect Perennials for the Prairie Gardener.

Book Reviews for Spring Planning.


  1. I already miss my Theresa Bugnet and giant, house-eating Polar Star. And the two in the back yard that I don’t remember the names of – one of those is coming to the new house with me. There’s a Morden Sunrise in the side bed of my old house that I love as well. Maybe roses at the new house, we’ll have to see for next year.

    • It’s so sad that you had to leave most of them behind; at least you can bring one of them over! I wish I could have seen that Polar Star, it sounds like a total beast. Love it! Hopefully you can put some roses in at the new place eventually.

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