Gardeners seem to fall into two distinct camps when it comes to roses:  One group loves and grows them, the other loves and won't grow them. Those in the latter camp almost always cite one reason:  Roses are too much work.

Oh, say its not true -- okay, its not true!    The newer breeds are way more mildew and disease resistant, and even here on the coast, with our "May Gray" and "June Gloom", they flourish easily.

Here are a few. among the zillions of roses out there, that have proven themselves very hardy, even in overcast, cool springs.

Red Roses
  • Carefree Spirit (Shrub/Weeks) :  Blooms from spring through fall.  Mounding habit to 2.5 feet.  Totally free of powdery mildew, rust, and black spot!  Light fragrance.
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  • Kardinal (Hybrid tea/Kordes) :  Constantly in bloom, impervious to weather, long stemmed, light fragrance.

  • Legends (Hybrid tea/Weeks) :  New!  Massive ruby red ruffled blossoms, up to eight inches across.  Vigorous deep green leathery foliage.  Moderate fragrance.  An Oprah fave!
  • Lover's Lane (Hybrid tea/Jackson & Perkins) : Deep velvety red with a light reverse.  Long stemmed and long lasting, light fragrance.
  • Olympiad (Hybrid tea/Weeks) : Long stemmed, long lasting as cut flowers, light fragrance.
  • Topsy Turvey (Floribunda/Weeks) :  Red, with white reverse, the petals twist into a pinwheel shape.  Light apple fragrance, flowers from early spring through Christmas.Photo
  • Trumpeter  (Floribunda/Weeks) : Another long bloomer, covered with bright brick red blossoms.  Compact mounding habit.  One of the most popular landscape roses here in California.
Pink and Coral Roses
Brilliant Pink Iceberg (Floribunda/Weeks) :  So easy to grow! A large floribunda that thrives both by the coast and inland.  Bright pink flowers, this rose can be cut back anytime and within weeks will be flowering again.  Light fragrance. (Also comes in a deep burgundy color.)
  • New Zealand (Hybrid tea/Weeks) :  Bright pink flowers on long stems. Luxuriant foliage. Intoxicating honeysuckle fragrance.
  • Pink Promise (Hybrid tea/Weeks) : New!  Long stemmed and intensely fragrant, up to 30 petals per delicate pink blossom.  Many nurseries are donating portions of the sale of this rose to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
  • Ruffles and Flourishes (Hybrid tea/Armstrong) : New!  Sprays of ruffled pink flowers, strong old fashioned rose fragrance.  Very vigorous.
  • Brigadoon (Hybrid tea/Weeks) :  A pretty blend of cream, light pink, and strawberry, with a mild fragrance.Photo
Yellow, Peach and Orange Roses
Artistry (Hybrid tea/Jackson & Perkins) :  A vibrant blend of coral and orange with a splash of cream on the underside.  Light fragrance.
  • Brass Band (Floribunda/Weeks):  Lovely sprays of melon, peach, and apricot flowers.  Moderate spicy fragrance

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  • Gold Medal (Grandiflora/Weeks) : Sprays of large, deep yellow flowers touched with a bit of copper.  Rich fruity fragrance
  • Honey Perfume (Floribunda/Weeks) : Large ruffled bright apricot yellow flowers with a licorice fragrance.
  • Just Joey  (Hybrid tea/Weeks) :  Large ruffled apricot flowers with long stems and a strong, fruity perfume.
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  • Light My Fire (Floribunda/Jackson & Perkins) New!  Flaming orange-red blossoms from spring through fall.  Ideal for borders or containers.
  • Mellow Yellow  (Hybrid tea/Weeks) :  Bright butter yellow flowers, very vigorous with tons of flowers, light fragrance.
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  • Tuscan Sun (Floribunda/Jackson & Perkins) :  Rich peach colored blossoms are presented in sprays that are great for cutting.  Tons of flowers, sweet spicy fragrance.
White and Lavender Roses
  • White Iceberg  (Floribunda/Weeks) Like its pink and burgundy sisters, this billowing, trouble free floribunda blooms almost year round in our mild climate.
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  • Caroline de Monaco (Hybrid tea/Star) : Pure white, very large blossoms (up to 45 petals) with a light fragrance.
  • Elle (Hybrid tea/Weeks)  This compact (up to 3 feet) rose is one of the BEST cutting roses I've found.  Exquisite shell pink and ivory flowers with an intoxicating fragrance, they held their shape longer than any of the others in the mixed bouquet.


  • Lynn Anderson (Hybrid tea/Weeks) : Large, very long stemmed creamy white flowers edged with dark pink, dark leathery foliage.  Light fragrance.
  • Paradise Found (Hybrid tea/Star) : New!  Impervious to all disease except black spot, with large blossoms blending shades of lavender.  Lemony, licoricey fragrance.
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  • Tips on Successful Rose Gardening:  Oh, I won't even begin to scratch the surface... I love roses and grow several, but I'm not a rosarian!  But keeping it simple, what works for me, in our mild climate, is:
  • Give them enough water and food.  I hand water mine between sprinkler cycles.  I throw down GroPower Plus every other month, and coffee grounds once every three months to attract earthworms. (But we have alkaline soil.  If your soil is already acid, you may not want to add the coffee.)
  • Give them good air circulation. Also, don't let water sit on the leaves.  Either water them in the morning so that they'll have time in the sun to dry, or use drip watering. 
  • Don't be afraid to prune whenever they look ratty. Out here, at least, I prune them in July and January, and sometimes in between if they are looking ratty.  They come back fast with fresh, healthy foliage and blooms
  • Re: insect control :  I garden organically, so I try to use the mildest forms of control.  Hard spray from the hose to wash off aphids, mild soapy water spray after that.  Ladybugs. Neem oil is an effective organic insecticide/miticide/fungicide, but its not that gentle and will kill "good" bugs as well as "bad." But I prefer it to chemicals.
The most compelling argument against toxic sprays, for me, was the sight of a hummingbird bathing in the wet leaves of a newly watered rose bush. 

                     (Photo by Nyvekk 59 on Flickr)