Roses: beauty, fruit, ornamental foliage, cover

Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

By Staff
I adore roses, but like I have said in the past, they are such "needy things."
I will not have any hybrid teas in my garden.
(Even though my mother did just give me one named "Hot Cocoa," I have promised myself to not "baby" it.)
But I do find the "nearly wild" ones – shrub or old-fashioned roses and ground cover – very appealing. This past summer I did buy several "nearly wild" roses, a shrub rose dubbed "Snowcone," one with a height of only two feet, a single-petaled white variety in one-inch flowers that bloom in clusters, reminding me of strawberry flowers. Another called "Spring Fever," a black spot-resistant ground cover with single, small, pink flowers and a variety called "Good and Plenty," small flowers of white whose petal tips are edged in a hot fuchsia pink. All are clothed, by the way, in a vicious mantel of "nearly wild" thorns. Many a gardener can lay claim to being bayonetted and then having to dig the embedded thorns out. I have a personal cure for this. My mother gave me a pair of my father's leather lineman work gloves, being well-worn, steeped in a lot of special history that has "seasoned" them richly.)
Perhaps it has something to do with their fragrances, or maybe it's their hardiness and disease resistance. Or is it because of their overabundance in not only their rosehips, but prickles as well?
Both can be a great plus, but their "prickles," even though I find them to be vary hazardous and quite vicious!
Quizzically, here in, I find an attraction to their pointed barbs. Some "barbs" appearing in hot pinks or flaming reds and not just in the old cornerstone of their usual greens and browns.
I think William Shakespeare said it best. What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. None can best the pure beauty of a rose. Roses have been named for generals, poets, politicians, statesmen, dramatists, musicians, authors, philosophers, kings, queens, nobility, mistresses and even from plays, operas and novels.
Whatever that has been said of the rose itself, such are their beauty, some are well worth growing just for their hips alone. Which can be plump, round or long and slender. Ranging in color from bright orange and red to a deep purple to even black.
Highly polished or bristly.
Some borne erect, others hang pendulously, while some are presumed to taste tart – birds usually wait until winter, when food sources are meager, either gulping the hips whole or plucking the larger fruits and pecking them into beak-sized pieces – last well into the winter, dressing the rose.
Although a rose is usually not known for its autumnal foliage, there are a few exceptions.
Several species and indeed a few hybrids, do display richly toned foliage, from a mustard to lavish depending hues of russet.
From their usual bright rich variable tones of greens ranging into the greys, rich plums and bronzy-red tones.
And, oh yes, let us remember, well, the value of their "tools of the trade," being their glorious thorns and their ornamental value.
Some come covered in broad, wedge-shaped, cherry-red translucent thorns. Just what any well-dressed impenetrable armored rose would wear.
Consider another rose for its dense population of teeny-tiny bristles. As for these thorns, they, too, come in all colors, shapes and sizes. And they themselves, in all their thorniness, provide an inviting, homely cover for the birds.
These brambly prickles provide some of the best well-protective cover out there. A bird can dive into this fortress during a predator-driven panic attack or in seeking shelter for the night, nesting snugly amongst the prickly maze.