William Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “The season alter; hoary-headed frosts fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose.”
April 23rd is St George’s Day in England, and the floral emblem of St George is the red rose. It is interesting that the red rose is also the emblem of such diverse entities as the English Labour Party and the English Rugby Union Team.
Roses bloom earlier in England than they do in some of the colder areas of the United States, and the English do not have to contend with sub zero winters and hot humid summers. However, though roses are difficult to grow well in our climate, spring often makes gardeners dream about them.
The Knock Out Rose: Strong and Beautiful
The most exciting development in roses these days is the Knock Out Rose bred by long-time rosarian William Radler. He worked to develop a maintenance-free rose for his own Wisconsin climate.
Since he lived in Zone 5 he needed hardiness to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and resistance to disease during humid summers.
To test for resistance to blackspot he ground up some infected leaves in his kitchen blender and sprinkled this on his roses. He also crossed resistant plants with those with flowers that were pleasing and after 15 years came up with a red and a pink knockout.
We will now see lots of these roses at Garden Centers and in home gardens thanks to Mr. Radler.