Celebrate National Rose Month with Old Garden Roses

white rose with beeI always knew June was the month for roses in my own garden. That’s when my favorite roses put on a fragrant show around the patio and throughout the garden.

It turns out, June is National Rose Month everywhere else, too.

If you want to go all in to celebrate roses this month there are two things you need to do:

1. Plant more roses.

2. Visit the grounds of Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery.

I know it might not sound like the place to hold a celebration, but the cemetery is the second oldest cemetery in Denver and home to at least 300 old garden roses of almost 60 different varieties. The fact that the majority of these old roses are over 100 years old is a testament to their hardiness.

In addition to their long and rich history, old roses have many benefits over some of the modern hybrid roses found in gardens today. Like the settlers that brought them here, these roses are hardy and used to difficult growing conditions.

Even though they bloom just once a year, their flowers are richly scented. Because they grow on their own roots they can tolerate winter’s freezing temperatures and are often referred to as “sub-zero roses.” In addition, once established they are drought hardy and they can stand up to hot summer sun and drying winds. They aren’t too picky about soil, either.

The Heritage Rose Garden is located on a hill near a large white gazebo. The roses here were transplanted from other areas of the cemetery by the Fairmount Heritage Rose Foundation volunteers.

Volunteers still get together several times a year to perform routine maintenance like fertilizing, cutting out dead canes and trimming the shrubs.

Antique roses are divided into groups based on their ancestry and include gallicas, damasks, albas, centifolias, mosses and chinas. Many of the roses in the Heritage Garden were marked as “mystery damask” or with just a “?” because their true lineage is unknown.

See if you can spot some of the well-known rose varieties like Harison’s Yellow, Alba Suaveolens (pictured above) and Dr. Huey.

Each of these old roses is exceptionally hardy and disease resistant. Most have grown into 6 to 8-foot-tall shrubs with long arching canes and blooms that range in color from yellow to white to red.

If you live in a cold climate — or one known for weather extremes, consider adding some old garden roses to your landscape. Be sure to plant them in a spot where you can enjoy them for the next 100 years.


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