Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

A Rose Hedge? Why Not!

octobre 21If you have no major problems with the roses in your area, such as rose chafers and Japanese beetles, roses make just as good a hedge than any other shrub. They even have the advantage, thanks to their spines, of making an excellent defensive hedge that neither thieves nor most animals would dare try to to cross. On the down side, they can only really be used as an informal hedge (a hedge that is not pruned into a geometric shape and is allowed to grow more or less naturally). If you pruned a rose bush into a typical rectangular hedge shape, you’d end up removing most of the flower buds!

Obviously you need to use a rose that is dense enough to make a good hedge and one that is highly disease resistant. Personally, I prefer modern roses as a hedge as they rebloom, but many of the old roses do make nice hedge plants if their brief blooming season isn’t a problem for you.

In cold climates, you’ll need to choose extra hardy roses, such as rugosa roses or those from the different Canadian series (Parkland roses, Explorer roses, Canadian Artist roses, etc.). Many German roses, especially the kordesii types, are also very hardy and make good hedges. English roses (David Austin hybrids) are moderately hardy (zones 5 or 6 and above) and many make excellent hedges.

All the varieties mentioned so far are considered “shrub roses” and indeed, they do tend to make the best hedges. Many of the bush roses (hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, etc.) lack the dense growth habit a hedge rose needs, plus their limited hardiness (they tend to suffer severely in zones colder than zone 7 unless you cover them for the winter) is a problem for many gardeners. Polyantha roses are an exception. They’re considered bush roses and yet many of them, like ‘Cecile Brunner’ and ‘The Fairy’ make excellent hedges and are very hardy.

Among the other roses that do not usually make good hedges are ground cover roses (too low) and climbing roses (too arched and too bare at the base). Some of the taller landscape roses will however make a very acceptable low hedge.

So, think it over: many a rose hedge is just what you were looking for!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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