GGW Plant Pick of The Month for November: Roses

– Posted in: Garden Plants

The GGW Plant Pick of The Month for November is roses. I know, I know. Roses can be so boring: the same old, same old. Over the past 10 years, so many exuberant, hardy and easy to care for vines, perennials and bushes have come on to the marketplace. So why bother with roses, specimens that are known to be fussy, disease prone and often difficult to maintain?

This is how I see it. It’s kind of like that old family recipe that gets handed down from generation to generation. For me, it’s my grandmother’s deep dish apple pie. When I was younger, I thoroughly enjoyed spending any amount of time it took to make this delectable dish. But over the years, as I got busier and simple pie recipes and luscious already made apple pies were at my disposal, with great ease (and maybe a bit of relief), I walked away from this old time, deep dish, sour cream apple pie recipe. But now, especially now, somehow this recipe has more meaning to me than ever before. Yes, it still takes time and patience to make. And often it doesn’t turn out the way I had envisioned it would. But no other apple pie can take its place, much like no other flower can take the place of a rose. [gallery]


Like so many gardeners, I was raised with roses, endlessly having my fingers pricked by them and getting their thorns stuck in my clothes. What a pain they were! But when I saw them in a vase on our dining room table, my emotions did a 180 degree turn. They were the epitome of simple, eternal beauty. And they still are today.

I’ve experimented with practically all types of roses: rugosas, groundcovers, hybrid musks, ramblers, old fashioned, hybrid teas and I’m sure several others whose names I’ve forgotten. I’ve gone through my share of David Austin Roses, always imagining that names like Gertrude Jekyll, Abraham Darby and Portmeirion, would automatically transform my garden into a romantic haven. To the contrary, I found these English roses prone to disease and scraggly in appearance. They were unlike those forever lush English gardens where roses thrive beautifully interwoven with mature and lush perennials (how do they stay so perfect when there is little circulation?).

Ramblers proved to be a great success when planted in locations where they had LOTS and LOTS of space. Otherwise, I spent endless hours cutting them back several times a season. One problem with ramblers: most only bloom once a year. Ramblers are just what the name says. If you want a somewhat neat, tidy looking climber, ramblers should not be used. Darlow’s Enigma is a hardy, abundant blooming rambler that I planted on my large, cedar on the side of my front yard. Who would have ever thought that one lone rambler would end up taking over a huge arbor in an intricate tapestry?

It’s thanks to mail order catalogues like and
that I became aware of a plethora of climbers, several of which can thrive in northern exposures as they do on the arbors in my front yard and on walls on the front of my house. Hardy, non fussy, fairly drought tolerant with continual, beautiful and sometime deliciously aromatic blooms, what more can a gardener ask for? Lavender Lassie, Eden, Climbing Cecile Bruner, Don Juan, Summer Wine and Madame Alfred Carriere are some of my favorites.

This is how to participate if it’s your first time visiting GGW Plant Pick of The Month. When posting on GGW, put a link to your site with photos of rose you’ve used in your garden. Thoughts, ideas, philosophies, successes, failures, likes and dislikes are what we love to hear about from you….and anything else you want to share!!

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
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Heirloom Gardener November 10, 2008, 1:03 am


Roses are a great pick for November. They are my absolute favorite, and as you expressed, they are particularly precious to me as the rest of the garden fades. Here’s a post with photos of many of the roses (Dortmund, Roulette, Penelope, Fairy, Thomas Affleck, Graham Thomas, Heritage and Cecil Brunner) still growing in my garden in New Jersey:

-Heirloom Gardener

Heirloom Gardener-
Great photos of roses on your blog. I love the close ups. Am impressed that you still have blooms on Graham Thomas and Cecile Brunner. Mine are long gone! Fran

Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden) November 11, 2008, 6:17 pm

Those are gorgeous! I’m always a bit envious (okay, a lot) of rose gardens. I have to enjoy roses of others with such a big deer population. I have 7 KO roses inside my cottage garden, but the deer still keep the blooms picked if they can reach them.


PS In honor of Veterans Day, I have a special story on my blog today written by an 89 year-old WWII Veteran and Gardener. Please come read “Arthur’s Story.”


Am glad you enjoyed. I have had tremendous problems with deers as well this year. They have chewed off plenty of perennials and even some blooms on my climbing roses in the front yard. This is a first. Am going over to your blog right now to check out your Veteran’s Day story. Fran

Phillip November 20, 2008, 12:43 pm

My favorite flower – I’ve posted something on my blog here –

When I checked out your posting on roses, I felt like I was walking through an English garden….wow! Your Veilchenblaus is so luxurious. I do agree that it is one of the most gorgeous of all roses, even thought it does only have the one bloom. I planted mine against a fence a few years ago and each spring, my jaw drops when it comes into bloom. I also have Rambling Rector on a large arbor and couldn’t agree with you more. I would never, ever use it again. Thanks for your beautiful photos and thoughts. Fran

Jean November 20, 2008, 11:50 pm

I really love roses and I don’t think I have enough of them. I really don’t. I’ve had a couple of blogs about roses, the last one was in the October Bloom Day post:

And here’s one about a rose I’ve had some issues with:

Perhaps next year I can blog about all the roses I planted in 2009. 🙂

I always love the David Austion roses but fell in love with your hybrid tea. And yes, please do share with all of us your 2009 roses. Fran

Mr. McGregor's Daughter November 21, 2008, 7:11 pm

Here’s my post about how, after years of resistance, I finally planted a Rose:
The Rose.

Your story about your daughter and YOU, as a Mom and a gardener, is beautiful. And you got a magnificent rose bush out of it as well. Thanks for sharing. Fran

TC November 23, 2008, 10:23 am

I can’t remember the name of this rose, but it’s one of the prettiest we have.

It is a beautiful rose. I don’t know the name of it either…perhaps someone else can check it out. Thanks for posting it. Fran

Dee/reddirtramblings November 23, 2008, 6:26 pm

Thanks for this opportunity. The post is up.

What a fantastic post! Beautiful photos and great by line on your feelings about roses. You have described the relationship between a hopeful gardener and roses perfectly. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Fran

Heirloom Gardener November 29, 2008, 11:29 pm

Here’s a new post that I just wrote for the Plant Pick of the Month, “Six Trouble-Free Heirloom Roses for the Home Gardener”:

-Heirloom Gardener

Heirloom Gardener-
Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and descriptions of the roses that you use in your zone6b garden. It is heartwarming for so many of us on the East Coast to see that you are able to use such a wide range of roses without much fanfare. Am particularly smitten with Madame Plantier and Rosa de Rescht. Anyone who gets on your blog to read this post should also check out your supporting articles on roses, which are full of worthwhile information as well. Fran

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