If your idea of the perfect rose is a long-stemmed beauty with stately, overlapping petals, then this year’s introductions may come as a surprise.
Of the 15 new roses that are sure to be the most widely available in 2012, there’s only one classic hybrid tea rose. Instead, most are shrub roses in one form or another, designed to be planted throughout the landscape, rather than isolated in a formal rose garden.
As for the ever-important flowers — rather than formal and elegant, these newcomers trend toward clusters of loose, frilly petals, with some of the concoctions scarcely looking like roses. Two specimens making their debut are the first-ever of their kind. Several others combine crazy colors, including one called Ketchup & Mustard. Thankfully there are a handful of demure pastels as well.
Regardless of the style, breeders continue to emphasize disease resistance. Indeed, the 2012 All-America Rose Selections winner, Sunshine Daydream, is the first garden rose to receive top honors under a new “no spray” requirement.
These traditional roses bear long-stemmed flowers and grow upright, typically reaching 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.
The lone hybrid tea rose making its debut this year is a vigorous rebloomer called Sugar Moon. Its white, long-stemmed flowers produce a strong, sweet, citrus and rose scent.
Pointed buds open to reveal 5-inch full, classic flowers composed of 35 petals apiece. Disease resistance is ranked as very good, and the dark, glossy green leaves are a nice contrast to the bright white of the flowers.
These shrub roses bear clusters of flowers above lush, full leaves, and generally grow 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.
Two new floribundas, bearing distinctive red eyes, represent an entirely new look. While most modern roses are offspring of China roses (Rosa chinensis), these new shrubs are hybrids of Hulthemia persica, which is a thorny, sprawling bush that blooms once a year and is native to dry, windswept lands in Iran and Afghanistan.
What has captivated rose breeders is the red blotch at the base of each petal, which, surrounding the center of the flower, gives the look of a red eye. Breeders have spent decades attempting to conquer the rambling habit of the species, introduce repeat blooming and produce a consistent, visible eye.
This year’s two Eyeconic hybrids are the first hulthemias to become commercially available.
Eyeconic Lemonade bears 4-inch flowers that are bright yellow with a medium-red inner ring. Each flower is composed of 10 to 12 petals, and there are three to five flowers per stem. The bushes are dark green and grow 4 1/2 feet tall and wide.
Eyeconic Pink Lemonade bears 3 1/2-inch flowers that open in a pale shade of melon orange with a red ring, then mature to shell pink with a purple ring. The flowers are composed of 8 to 10 petals, with five flowers per stem. It grows only 3 feet tall and wide.
Both Eyeconics are said to bloom continuously, rather than in waves. They are self-cleaning, so don’t require dead-heading. It will be interesting to learn, given their geographic origin, whether they are drought-tolerant as well.
Equally distinctive, but in an entirely different way, is Ketchup & Mustard. Its two-toned petals are yellow on their back sides and red within.
It’s love-it or hate-it combination when the pointed buds open and the petals curl back, revealing that bright red and deep yellow reverse. The 3 1/2-inch formal, spiraled flowers bear about 25 petals. They bloom above apple-green leaves.
The shrub is round, bushy and offers good disease resistance.
Koko Loko is a classic-looking rose in terms of its fully double flowers, which are composed of 30 to 35 petals apiece.
But its coloring is most unusual, with light chocolate flowers aging to a pinkish lavender. It forms a full, bushy shrub with deep green leaves and has above-average disease resistance.
Orchid Romance bears pretty, frilly, old-rose flowers that open pink, then fade to a lighter shade with a hint of lavender. Each fragrant, cuplike flower bears an amazing 75 petals, with three to five flowers per stem. The bushes are upright, growing 4 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and are very resistant to black spot, powdery mildew and rust.
Tangerine Streams also bears cup-shaped flowers, but in a sunny combination of orange, yellow and apricot. Each 3-inch flower is composed of 25 petals, with one to five flowers per stem. The shrubs resist mildew and rust, and grow 3 1/2 to 4 feet tall.
Tequila Supreme is multi-colored as well, but in darker copper and bronze tones. The cuplike flowers are similar in shape, size and petal count to Tangerine Streams. But the flowers are one to three per stem and the shrubs grow taller, reaching 4 to 4 1/2 feet.
Thrive! presents a wild rose look, with only 7 to 8 petals on each 3-inch, fire engine-red flower. Five to 10 flowers bloom on each stem, all at about the same height. The vigorous, bushy shrubs grow 4 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and have very good disease resistance to black spot, and excellent resistance to rust and mildew.
Basically floribundas on steroids, these shrub roses can reach 5 to 10 feet tall. They bloom prolifically and produce clusters of flowers on short or long stems, depending on the hybrid.
The new Sunshine Daydream bears rounded, cup-shaped, pastel yellow flowers above dark-green, glossy foliage. The 2012 All-America Rose Selections winner was tested in 21 gardens across the country under the group’s “no spray” rule and offers excellent disease resistance.
A vigorous bloomer, it bears 25 petals on each 3 1/2-inch flower, produces one to eight flowers per stem and grows 5 to 5 1/2 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
David Austin English shrub roses combine the shapes and fragrances of old roses with the colors and repeat blooming of modern roses. Both newbies for 2012 are smaller than many older David Austins, and are good choices for the fronts of planting beds or even containers.
Princess Anne bears dark pink, ruffly flowers that stand up much like a water lily. The clusters of plump, double flowers mature to purple-lilac, providing a multi-colored effect over a compact, bushy shrub that reaches only 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
Skylark bears semi-double, apple and clove-scented flowers that open deep pink, then relax to reveal a small, white center while aging to lilac-pink. Skylark grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide as well. But its habit is lighter and the flowers feel somewhat airy, perched on taller stems.
These petite versions of full-sized roses feature diminutive flowers and foliage.
All a’Twitter bears pure orange flowers above clean, green foliage. The small, 1 1/2-inch double flowers bear a light fragrance, are composed of 15 to 20 petals apiece and retain their sparkling color as they age. I tested one in a pot on my patio last year and it was the perfect foreground plant to a Satsuma tangerine underplanted with white sweet alyssum.
Itty Bitty Pink bears scads of tiny, 3/4-inch bubblegum pink flowers on bushy plants that reach only 1 1/2 feet tall and wide. The cuplike flowers retain their coloring as well. Itty Bitty Pink offers very good disease resistance and is a great, long-blooming edging plant along a walkway or patio.
These roses produce lateral branches to train on a fence, trellis or arbor.
The new Stormy Weather looks a lot like a wild, rambling rose, bearing clusters of smoky purple, open-faced flowers with yellow centers. The 4-inch flowers are composed of 15 to 20 petals apiece and carry a moderate spice scent. It is a mid-sized climber, producing canes that grow 6 to 8 feet long.
Seeds of Wisdom
The new year kicks off bare-root season. Roses are dormant, which makes them easy to transport without soil attached to their roots. They’re also easy to plant. In January and February, you’ll find the biggest selection and the best prices.
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