Antiques for Zone 4?

BetsyKristl(5)August 22, 2014

I live in Massachusetts. We are zoned at 5b, most of the time. Some websites will zone us at 6, but I think they're just hoping we'll buy a lot of stuff that will die off... Our climate, especially winters is so variable that we can have different zones in the same 1 acre lot!

That being said, I'm dying to grow an antique, but wary of shopping online for it because some sites are so "sketchy." Can anybody recommend a reliably cold hardy antique rose? I can provide it with whatever it needs, location-wise, but I can't control the weather!

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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

I grow Alba semi-plena. It went through this winter like a breeze. All albas are winter hardy to zone 4 at least.

When I was doing my research on OGRs I realized all European OGRs are hardy to zone 4. (Gallicas, Centifolias, Damasks & Portlands).

I believe you can grow HPs and Bourbons too. I grew Zephrine Drouhin for several years, but I gave it away, mostly due to my ignorance and it's size :-)

Bear in mind, reliable & adequate snow cover plays a big role in growing roses. If you get more than enough snow, you can grow many roses, which might not make it in warmer zones.

By mid- winter my tender rose are under 4-6 feet of snow.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 3:42PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

*Most* European once bloomers are hardy to zone 4. There are exceptions.

A lot of the repeat bloomers have blackspot issues in the east. This affects their ability to overwinter.

There are also some bizarre identification issues out there. Where what one nursery is selling under a name performs noticably better/worse than what others are selling.

A lot of the truly reliable hardy once bloomers are extremely talented at taking up space in a garden, pushing out lesser plants. So a big question is how much space you are willing to give the rose.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:03PM
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ratdogheads(5b NH)

On HMF, under Nurseries look up "Lowe's Roses Historic Archive". Mike Lowe was a rose breeder/retailer from Nashua, NH who specialized in old roses. He has passed on and the nursery no longer exists, but I find his list on HMF to be a great resource. Many varieties on his list are hard to find but my feeling is that if an old rose expert from Nashua recommended it - I can trust it.

My personal best recommendation would be Madame Pierre Oger. She was a one year old bare root and was amazingly one of my toughest survivors this winter, and certainly one of my loveliest of roses. I can also vouch for the incredible hardiness of Rose de Rescht, which was the only rose left standing this winter in a nearby garden full of supposedly zone 4 roses. Virtually no die back - fragrant and a good re-bloomer too!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:11PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

There are issues with Mike's list. For one thing, he was a collector. He wasn't growing the 'best' roses, he was growing what he could get his hands on. There were things he stopped listing because they kept dying on him, but surviving was all the rose really had to do.

Another issue is that he ended up grafting a lot of roses. His official speciality was HPs, and I believe all of those he sold grafted. I was surprised to find out that more than half the roses we purchased from him were grafted. It can make the difference between a wimpy non-performer and a rose you are happy to have. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to find old roses grafted currently.

Then there was the fact that his garden was obviously warmer than ours. Not much, but I've seen the difference a couple of degrees can make.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:58PM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

MG can you give me a couple of your exceptions?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:06PM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

If you want antiques for your area, why not try an antique source?;)


Here is a link that might be useful: Transactions of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, 1872

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:16PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Juno, a centifolia usually listed as hardy to 5b. I know from experience that it is a bit hardier than that, but it has died in zone 4.

Gloire de Guilan, a damask that has suffered serious winterkill here, and also died in zone 4.

Empress Josephine may just be hard to grow, as opposed to not hardy.

Those are off the top of my head. There are others.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:17PM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

Thanks MG. I saw Gloire de Guilan listed growing in 2 gardens in zone 4, and several other Centifolias too grown in Quebec. Of course that could mean anything.

Maybe that's why I insisted on snow coverage. Of course a protected garden as opposed to a open garden, and a city garden vs. a country garden can make a difference.

I'm not so sure, if I were to plant tender roses in the winter sunny areas of my garden, I would have the same success, as snow cover is 2/3 feet. Most of my rose garden is in shade during the winter, so nothing melts till early april.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 4:29PM
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New England is a beast of a place to garden - as we've always said up here, "if you don't like the weather just wait 5 minutes." We get it all - snow, ice, freezing on Halloween, 60 degrees on Christmas, freezing again by Valentines Day. Sometimes it snows, most of the time it thaws before the next time it snows. We get a lot of ice in between. The worst of it all is that we never know when, or even if, we'll have a transition from our hot & humid summers and our cold, unpredictable winters. It makes it hard to get tender roses bundled up when snow comes out of no where right before you were going to take care of it.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:55PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I try very hard to talk people out of winter protection. It is very problematic around here because of the freeze-thaw and the moisture. Normal winter protection probably causes more damage than it prevents. It's just best to give it a pass. Most of the common tender roses do just fine with the usual snow cover. It has the courtesy to disappear when you don't want it, and reappear when you do.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:23AM
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Yes, mad_gallica - I've heard both sides of the argument and as a result I don't sweat it much if I don't get a chance to dress the roses. I don't wrap my plants - just cover the bud union with mulch. There's a similar perennially unsolved debate about whether or not to cut roses back in the fall. I've done it both ways, in both cases, and most of my roses survive, others do not. I don't think it has much to do with whether or not I mulched it or cut it back. Sometimes we just have bad winters. And it doesn't always snow here - sometimes they have to survive the coldest winters without their blankies...

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:56AM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

I don't protect my rose anymore, but then again my tender roses are grafted with the bud union being way down.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 4:04PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Bud unions waving in the breeze are just asking for winterkill. The almost unanimous recommendation is that the should be buried an inch or two underground, at least. Given that, most HTs will at least survive.

It sounds like you are much drier than we are. Mulching over canes almost always leads to canker here, since there are times during the winter when a warm spell causes the snow cover to melt, so the magic mulch mounds are doing little more than holding moisture next to the canes at temperatures above freezing. We also very rarely have temperatures below zero without at least some snow. I think it has happened once in twenty years. It took out almost all of certain types of plants - though not roses.

The reason I don't grow many tender roses anymore actually wasn't a bad winter, but a bad spring. They showed no desire to recover from that, and I had other things that needed the space.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 4:36PM
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You know, half the things I do in my garden are based on, at best, a coin toss. We never know from one week to the next what kind of weather we'll have - sometimes it doesn't snow all winter, sometimes it snows and thaws/snows and thaws...., sometimes we don't see grass from October until May. Sometimes we have a wet spring, sometimes a dry spring, sometimes we just skip right to summer. Summer is always hot and humid - sometimes it rains.

I started growing roses before there were internet forums for guidance, so I read books, talked to the people at the nurseries, got advice from other gardeners, and so forth. In the end I had about 100 different ideas about how to grow roses - and each source swore to its own reliability 100%. When I first started planting grafted roses the instructions were very clear and consistent - do not bury the bud union. The reasoning at the time was that doing so would, 1 - encourage rot and 2 - encourage the host rose to sucker. So now it's 15 years later and, like everything else, rosarians have learned a few new things. It will be fun to see what they tell gardeners to do 15 years from now!

At any rate, what have survived from my original roses are planted with bud unions exposed, newer additions are planted with the bud union under the soil, but not by much. Sometimes I prep my roses, sometimes I don't and I can't say whether it's made any difference. I don't even prune consistently. I'm an old New Englander and around here we do things by the seat of our pants, at least we used to. It either works or it doesn't. We just make do.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:06PM
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I knew a woman named Olga who used to post a lot on this form. She lived here in zone 6, didn't spray and had zero tolerance for black spot. As a result she ended up shovel pruning a lot of her modern roses. The one class that seemed to do best for her where the Gallicas. These once blooming OGRs should be completely hardy for you in zone 5.

One of her favorites was BELLE DE CRECY. Image by Christian at the Hortiplex database.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 5:32PM
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There used to be a woman named Celeste on the forum who gardened in northern New England--I believe New Hampshire--in Zone 4, and she grew amazing roses, including many antiques. She's been gone a while and I don't know if her posts are still available. Also have you looked on HelpMeFind? You can do specialized searches for roses, including by zone hardiness. Some of their site features may only be available to paying members; I'm not sure about this one. You could perhaps also look for member gardens listed on HelpMeFind that are in zone 4 or colder.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:55AM
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I miss Celeste. She always had interesting things to say.

If you are a book kind of person (as I am), you might look for a copy of Hardy Roses by Robert Osborne. There are two editions, both with an organic bent, but the newer edition (2001) lists 30-some more varieties than the first edition did. The focus of the book is choosing cultivars that will thrive in cold climates. I believe both editions are now out of print, but they are easily and inexpensively available in the online used book world.

There are other books on the topic out there, and no doubt some of them are good, but this is the one I can personally recommend.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:12PM
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I have the same problem...we're listed as zone 5b or 6, but every other winter we're zone 4a.

So far, we've had great luck with Celsiana (damask) and Bleu Magenta. It's barely protected from the wind...but it's gorgeous and blooms like crazy.

Both are huge and only get water (LOL) winter protection here, except for the railing on the porch :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Here is a list of roses that have survived well over a decade (most are over two decades old) in my family's NY state zone 4 garden with no winter protection and little care other than wood chip mulch:

Alba Semi-Plena
Amy Robsart
Belle Herminie
Blanc Double de Coubert
Caroline de Sansal
Charles de Mills
Constance Spry
Doorenbos Selection
Green Mantle
Henri Martin
Henry Kelsey
La Ville de Bruxelles
Lillian Gibson
Madame Hardy
Maiden's Blush
Marchesa Boccella
Mary Queen of Scotts
Monte Rosa
Rosa Gallica Officionalis
Rosa Mundi
Roseraie de l' Hay
Sarah Van Fleet
Sir Thomas Lipton
The Polar Star
Therese Bugnet
Variegata di Bologna
William III

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 12:53PM
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Wow! Thank you all for your helpful advice and suggestions. I'm suddenly quite overwhelmed with the possibilities... I'm pleasanty surprised to learn that I'm already growing a few of these roses - I just didn't know they were antiques! Others I've looked at and passed by - it's so hard to know what a rose will be when it's in a pot, and I don't trust websites to give an accurate picture or description. This forum is a blessing!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 1:07PM
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ratdogheads(5b NH)

BetsyKristl - your comment about rose advice makes me think it's about as changeable as New England weather. When my parents bought their home in Mass in the late 70s. there was a crimson HT growing, graft exposed. It survives and blooms to this day. Wish I knew what it is. Personally I do bury my grafts very deep, but I gave up winter protecting. It's survival of the fittest in my garden.

Palatine has a bunch of antique roses, and I believe they are grafted. A least the several that I've gotten are. You might take a look at North Creek Farm in Maine; good resource and advice but don't expect the inventory to reflect the website.

Also, another of my favorites that has proven quite hardy, exquisitely beautiful and even has good repeat: Kronprinzessin Viktoria.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 1:13PM
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