A Tough Rose for a Tough Gardening Climate

One of the toughest roses I’ve found that does consistently well in my Zone 5 backyard has turned into something we affectionately call The Rose Monster.

Something most people don’t know about me is that I grew up with a mom who had too many things going on inside the house to be worried about the landscape outside the house.

She didn’t plant flowers. We didn’t have a vegetable garden. There were no colorful containers overflowing with petunias. As long as the lawn got watered and mowed on a fairly regular basis, she was happy with her gardening efforts.

So it’s no surprise I was captivated by the one flowering plant in our yard—a beautiful climbing red rose. Every year that rose grew on its own. It wasn’t lovingly pruned and it certainly wasn’t babied with any special soils or rose fertilizers. It wasn’t protected from freezing temperatures with thick layers of mulch and there was no winter watering.

But every spring its canes would slowly turn from dry-brown to bright green and then little leaves would unfurl. By early summer it would be something fabulous to behold.

That’s why one of the first plants I added to the landscape at my new house was a climbing rose. I looked long and hard to find one with qualities similar to that red climber I remember so well.

That’s how the Rose Monster came to be.

The Rose Monster’s formal name is Rosa ‘John Cabot’, a Canadian Explorer Series Hybrid Climber I found online at High Country Gardens. It arrived as two eight-inch tall stems and I planted them on each side of an arched arbor and let them grow.

The Rose Monster is now so tall and strong it actually holds the arbor together. Every spring, after months of cold weather, I watch as the long and wildly arching canes turn green and I look for little leaves to sprout. The rose show is now in full bloom and the Monster is covered with hundreds of fuschia-pink flowers.

The Rose Monster isn’t only beautiful, it’s fragrant, too. In early morning it’s pure joy to step onto the patio, stand under the arbor and revel in its sweet scent.

I’m not the only one who loves these roses. Circular snippets cut from the leaves are used by native cutter bees to line their cells and serve as baby blankets for young bees.

Bumblebees get so drunk on the Rose Monster’s nectar they practically stumble from one flower to the next before they lazily fly away. I’ve even caught my dog carefully sticking his nose into a blossom for a few quick sniffs.

I look forward to enjoying this climbing rose’s beauty for many years and taking good care of it—just like my mom took care of hers.


 

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