EarthKind Roses by PJ LaRue Smith
Consulting Rosarians (an American Rose Society certification for those who have extensive knowledge in growing roses) hear one statement more than any other from a rose lover who’s not growing roses, “I have always loved roses, but I just can’t seem to grow them!” That statement will undoubtedly spur the CR (Consulting Rosarian), to begin asking questions about their previous rose growing attempts. (i.e. planting location, soil type, problems experienced, etc.) Before the Earth-Kind® program was established, personal experience was often the sole basis for recommending a particular rose variety to someone new to growing roses. Today, CR’s can recommend – with confidence, roses bearing the Earth-Kind® designation to those who love roses, but had little or no previous success growing them.
So what is an Earth-Kind® rose? According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, “Earth-Kind is a special designation given to select rose cultivars by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service through the Earth-Kind landscaping program. It is based on the results of extensive research and field trials and is awarded only to those roses demonstrating superior pest tolerance, combined with outstanding landscape performance.”
Therein lies the beauty of Earth-Kind® roses – they have already been “proven” to grow well in Texas, under a variety of conditions and temperatures. These selections will still need to have their basic needs met – 6 -8 hours of sunlight; soil with adequate drainage; sufficient water for the first year (to get established); and 4 – 6 inches of mulch. However, unlike other, less adaptable cultivars, once established, Earth-Kind® roses will continue to bloom and flourish with little or no fertilization, pruning, or spraying. As a CR myself, let me clarify that Earth-Kind® roses do enjoy a little TLC now and then, however, they do not REQUIRE it in order to be a beautiful addition to the landscape.
Currently there are 23 Earth-Kind® designated rose varieties: Belinda’s Dream, Caldwell Pink (aka “Pink Pet”), Carefree Beauty, Cecile Brunner, Climbing Pinkie, Ducher, Duchesse de Brabant, Else Poulsen, Georgetown Tea, Knock Out®, La Marne, Marie Daly, Mme. Antoine Mari, Monsieur Tillier (added 2011), Mrs. Dudley Cross (added 2011), Mutabilis, New Dawn, Perle d’Or, Reve d’Or, Sea Foam, Souvenir de St. Anne’s, Spice, and The Fairy.
Many of these varieties are on display at the Heritage Garden (maintained by Hunt County Master Gardeners) located next to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office at 2217 Washington Street in Greenville. Stop by and see how these varieties grow in this area, and while there, don’t forget to look at all of the other fascinating plants that are included in the garden.
Wanting more information on Earth-Kind® roses? Texas A&M has a website dedicated to the Earth-Kind Roses . Additional cultivars that have completed (and passed) the rigorous eight year testing process are announced early in a given year, so keep the aforementioned website handy for future updates. (Note: 2011’s cultivars, Monsieur Tillier and Mrs. Dudley Cross have not yet been added to this page. However, Chamblee’s Rose Nursery’s website – http://www.chambleeroses.com, has a listing of all the above-mentioned varieties as well as photos and growing information for each one.)