Celebrate the Year of the Rose and plant a native Virginia rose this month.
Roses are probably the most well-known flower in the world, but our sweet native roses don’t get in on that claim to fame. They are out of sight and out of mind for most gardeners.
Roses have been part of our gardens and our culture for ages. Native roses surely formed the beginnings of the rose craze, but we quickly forgot them when we saw American beauties like hybrid tea roses with their big perfect buds and blooms. And, we planted shrub roses across the landscape.
A dozen red roses or a single red rose is a gift to ones you love. But our sweet pink swamp rose (Rose palustris) and Carolina rose (Rosa carolina), both natives, not so much.
Many a president has participated in important ceremonies held in the White House Rose Garden. The rose has been the U.S. official flower since Ronald Reagan was in office, but the symbolic rose looks nothing like a native one.
The rose family, Rosaceae, is important in many ways, not just because we love to smell the roses. It is because we also dine on apples, almonds, peaches, strawberries, pears, raspberries and more, all members of that family.
The National Garden Bureau declared 2017 the “Year of the Rose” to tout the long-stemmed beauties and other cultivars available at the nurseries, but there’s no mention that I could find of sweet native roses that are hardy and easy to care for. You might see our local friends blooming in the wild along the swamp edges and country fields here in Hampton Roads.
Two native roses are listed in the new guide “Native Plants for Southeast Virginia, Including the Hampton Roads Region.” They are the Carolina or pasture rose and the swamp rose . Both have delicate pink, open-faced blooms with yellow centers and are hard to tell apart.
A swamp rose can be seen in the Virginia Native…