Lets forget about the flower( i know its hard ). What bush would you grow just for the beauty of the shrub?
The first that comes to mind is Metis. Beautiful R. nitida-style foliage and unusual red in the canes.
Here is a link that might be useful: Metis on HMF
In the land of at least semi-leaflessness I would choose Duquesa and Clotilde Soupert. Duquesa is nearly perfect, and CS is very, very good. Very bushy bushes.
Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...
Monsieur Tillier's foliage always looked fabulous, despite his quarter-sized roses for most of the year in my climate. His leaves were distinctly blue-green and never, ever spotted. He grew evenly and quickly and I think he must be an epic rose elsewhere.
There are many beautiful ones such as R. glauca that I've never seen, but in my own garden I would have to say Mutabilis.
Rosa Roxburghii since it has such interesting leaves and hips. In my climate it is also just about indestructible.
I agree with both Ingrid's choices and with Rinaldo's--I wish I could grow R. roxburghii decently here--but what moved me to comment is my total agreement with Evenie about 'Archduke Joseph'. It does have notably beautiful foliage, which in winter here turns a dark burnished hue, almost black. And in my climate the flowers get considerably larger than quarters. This is the rose I'm trying to train through a persimmon, so far successfully. "Epic" is indeed the word for it. Or "dreamy".
Some roses have excellent fall color, a fact I take into account here where so few plants color well in the autumn. Some of the Rugosas have flaming fall foliage, though unfortunately they do poorly with me. And R. hugonis colors very well, and is interesting and good in every way, except in its susceptibility to cane girdler.
Louis Riel - a lovely glauca/spin hybrid. Ghislaine de Feligonde and its parent, Goldfinch, both have really good solidly healthy fresh foliage and a good shape.
R.cantabridgiensis - ferny foliage early in spring set against the deep red new wood.
Moyesii, although a gaunt monster, has some real presence in my garden as I have limbed up the trunk to an enormous tree-like shape...and the heps are terrific.
Finally, Splendens, an Ayreshire hybrid, has amazing canes, more like a liana than anything, which weaves effortlessly around sweet pea supports( or beanpoles, tripods, even drapes over the fruit cages) - infinitely malleable and again, many perfectly round heps.
Yeah, I know that is more than one but every rose I grow must have considerably more going for it than a delicious bloom.
Rosa minutifolia (the oldest rose AFAIK)
Rosa omeiensis 'Pteracantha'
Photo is of R. minutifolia at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, CA. Sorry it has a few flowers on it! But the foliage really is minute, and reminds me more of a fern than a rose. Unique! Sadly extinct in the wild in California due to development. There are still stands in existence in Baja California (Mexico) in the wild. In the US it is found in botanic garden collections and those of us private gardeners fortunate enough to buy from these sources. Will die if overwatered.
Pteracantha has glorious winged red thorns. So striking in the garden! Not picky about care. In other words I've neglected this rose and it is perfectly happy.
Wild Edric's foliage is lush and beautiful for most of the year. All wavy wavy rugosa and a pretty, restful shade of green. Drought tolerant and low calorie.
R. primula is very stately in growth habit with her arms gently swaying in the breeze, perfuming the garden with incense. Tough as nails. Great for the lazy gardener.
Snowbelt/Cassie is a small mound of green. She likely would be attractive without flowers, but is rarely without at least a couple, even in winter. But since she blooms so much she is also often covered in orange red hips, so Cassie features multiple colors pretty much all the time. Not fussy.
I like r. Primula and the other early yellows. Also some Gallicas, especially the small Alain Blanchard. The polyanthas have a nice, branching shape.
Rosa californica Plena because it almost screens the house of one of my neighbours to the east, the only side of the garden with no boundary hedge. The shrub is beautiful in itself as well.
I've long found a number of my own creations as, if not more, pleasing than many of the commercial roses I've grown. Annie Laurie McDowell is the prettiest climbing rose plant I've grown yet. I truly enjoy both Carlin's Rhythm, Lynnie, Little Butterfly and Too Cute as plants as well as for their flowers. Lauren also looks good with, or without flowers. I love the autumn foliage I'm seeing on many of them such as Porcelain Rose, Lynnie, Indian Love Call and 1-72-1Hugonis.
Some of the newest seedlings are really showing wonderful autumn coloring, too. One, in particular, has really colored up. April Mooncrest X Pookah was quite pleasing this summer. Fragrant, not too prickly, repeat flowering with pretty foliage, but now, what coloring! Autumn foliage in "The Land of Endless Summer" can be hard to come by. When I can raise seedlings which are healthy, productive, pretty AND colorful in autumn, I consider it a win-win! Photos are posted below. Kim
April Mooncrest summer foliage
April Mooncrest flower
Autumn coloring of the seedling today
I love the shape and the bushy, full-look of the China Ducher. When seen out of bloom, anyone would think it had been planted just to be a lovely medium-sized shrub. The foliage is thick and healthy. Lou
If I had the space, I'd love to have 'R. glauca' as a specimen shrub. I know it's been mentioned already, but the pictures I've seen of it are so beautiful, I felt it needed reiteration.
Phillistine that I am, none - not even the mosses nor R. eglantera. If it's a rose, it must have a blossom and it better have good fragrance to boot. I know that other plants are grown for foliage alone but a rose offers so much more. How can one be satisfied with less?
Cath, I agree somewhat, but mostly because of what I've come to associate with the word "rose" and what I'd expect to see in a plant sold under that name. However, what I think of when I look up various species or species-hybrids is not "rose" but "flowering shrub", and when I do that, I give a much more "whole-plant" evaluation.
Seeing an Autumn-foliage (or even Winter-defoliated) species rose heavily laden with hips (and against a snowy background, even better!) is nicer than what I'm seeing on most of my babies right now. Unfortunately, with a tiny yard, I have to make a big impact -- so I planted "roses" as opposed to "flowering shrubs" which also happen to be roses, since I am already working around a few "non-flowering shrubs" in the way of arbor vitae. If I was starting a bigger yard from scratch, I'd utilize those "flowering shrub" species and species-hybrid roses as the first layer of the foundation instead of other non-rose "flowering shrubs", working my way down through the various classes -- where I'd plant forsythia, I'd instead plant one of the Spring-blooming yellow species, for example.
Understood, Cath, so let's make it easier on you. Which of your roses are so pretty as foliated shrubs, you ENJOY looking at it between flushes of flowers? Many are just down right unsightly without color on them. Which of yours pleases your eye even when they aren't colorful? Kim
OK, Kim. I don't care what the bloom looks like on that gorgeous-foliaged seedling. I'll take two, lol.
Thanks John. I don't know how hardy it might be, but with a dose of Buck rose, at least two doses of multiflora, at least one of wichurana and Centifolia, it should have some hardiness. It may remain a shrub or it might try to climb, but some of that should depend upon climate. I'll try wrapping it next month to see if I can get it to root. I haven't tried yet as it only germinated this past January. If it roots and you still want to try it, it's yours! Kim
Lady Hillingdon. The wine colored new growth, deep green mature foliage ; combined with the buttery yellow/apricot blossoms. Well it just Makes me smile.
I'd have to say that to me the albas are the most pleasing rose plants, specifically White Rose of York and Mme Plantier. However in the interest of full disclosure, I must say that WroY is on its way out (some kind of cane tunneler - for want of a better term) and Mme P is recovering from a too close encounter with Syringia lacinata, Cut-leaf Lilac. I like this because I can get my lilac fragrance fix and yet it does not get too big - about 6'.
Kim, I didn't realize at first that you could use this information in your breeding.
White Rose of York has nice hips. I know that many relate best to Gallicas, others to Teas and yet others to Chinas. For me it is the Albas, the species (although experts might argue the species issue) with the mostest. And I cannot put my finger on quite "why?". The fact that they are once blooming is a definite negative and yet...and yet.
Honestly? Probably not any.
I do care about the shrub but I grow roses for the flower and scent. If there were no flowers whatsoever involved I would probably stick to conifers for my shrubs, along with other shrubs that have fragrant leaves.
Any information about why a product of any kind is popular is always beneficial for the creation of other potentially successful and beneficial products. I do know what you mean about the Albas, though. When I've seen them well grown, they are beautiful plants! Thanks. Kim
alba semi plena for the blue green leaves and hips.
R. arvensis for foliage
R. helenae for foliage
The Incense Rose for fragrance of foliage as well as beauty.
Eglantine for a big scented bush.
all the spinosissimas for fern like foliage and cool hips.
The ferny, delicate (though tough as nails!) foliage in that lovely color, on the bronze-red wood and red hips are what attract me to the yellow Chinese species, too. I've raised quite a few Hugonis hybrids this year and am more than eager to see what they'll turn in to with maturity. Kim