Show and tell: Rose edition.

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Thursday morning found me up on Nose Hill again, where I discovered a large pocket of white wild roses.  Our two wild rose species, Rosa acicularis and Rosa woodsii, usually flower in various shades of pink, and I was delighted to come across white ones that were not simply pink blooms washed out by age or sunlight or drought.   Very pretty!

Other than a miniature rose with gorgeous pink blooms that my former landlady “lent” me about a decade ago, I don’t grow any roses at our apartment complex.  Fortunately, the mini hangs on from year to year with my minimal care – although it was touch and go this spring.  For awhile there, I actually feared it had finally been done in by the weather, but it surprised me with its perseverance.  Good thing, too, because my former landlady still lives in my building and she regularly checks on the plant (which was a gift from her granddaughter).   It’s just starting to put on flower buds now, much later than usual…but I’m just so relieved it’s still alive.  Here’s a photo from 2006, when it was fairly new to the garden. (I’m surprised to find that I don’t have any recent pics of it – I will rectify that once it blooms.  Of course, it’s not a whole lot larger now than it was back then!).

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Okay, it’s your turn to brag about your roses…let’s hear about the ones that are performing best in your garden this year, the ones that you love most, the ones you’re dreaming about!  Please feel free to put up a link to your blog in the comments if you want others to check out any posts you’ve made about your roses – I know I’d certainly be delighted to see them!  

Wild rose extravaganza.

The sight and fragrance of hundreds of wild roses were a true delight during hikes along Calgary’s Douglas Fir Trail this weekend.  Nothing beats their heavenly scent, nor the joy of watching bees gathering pollen from the open flowers.  There’s just something so simply elegant about these tough beauties, some sort of expressive vitality that the hybridized roses don’t have (but don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy for the hybrids, too).

Alberta’s provincial flower (chosen in 1930) is the prickly (syn. wild or Arctic) rose, Rosa acicularis.  It’s a thorny, rambling shrub that can grow up to 2 metres tall and wide, producing single, five-petalled deep pink flowers between May and August.   In the autumn, plants produce bright red hips, chockful of vitamin C and highly suitable for delicious preserves and tea.

Rosa woodsii, or the common (syn. mountain or woods) rose, is also found in Alberta, in the same habitat as the prickly rose.  At a glance, it’s difficult to tell the two apart, and indeed, they will often hybridize.  Rosa woodsii is usually a denser, bushier specimen, and it usually grows up to 1.5 metres tall, with a similar spread.  Often, you’ll find Rosa woodsii available for sale in garden centres (certain places will also sell Rosa acicularis) – please purchase them if you want them in your garden, don’t take cuttings from the wild!  Be aware that wild roses don’t have any proper manners – they’re unruly, and spread quite aggressively via underground rhizomes.  (There’s a reason most gardeners grow the well-behaved hybridized rose breeds).   Massive amounts of time and labour are required to prune wild roses and keep them under control in a formalized setting.  Given sufficient space in a naturalized or woodland garden, however, wild roses can be a beautiful addition.  They’re also often used to control erosion on dry slopes, as they’re not picky about soil type or fertility and are extremely drought tolerant.   As well, they grow quickly and can live up to twenty years.

Stop and smell the (wild) roses!

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www.albertarose.com

www.eaglelakenurseries.com

www.bowpointnursery.com