Coming Up Roses
Cape Cod rosarians share scoops on how to make this favorite—but sometimes capricious—plant a showstopping success in seaside gardens.
Roses have always had a singular allure; it’s no wonder that Cape Cod residents and visitors alike treasure these flowers. In general, roses do well in seaside locations, and they are treasured for gracing our landscapes with color during the summer and fall.
Success with roses isn’t necessarily a given, however. Some varieties do better than others and they require proper planting and some on-going maintenance. Two of Cape Cod’s premier rosarians, Irwin Ehrenreich and William “Oz” Osborn, agree that if the right plant is chosen and placed in the correct growing conditions, roses can thrive and provide years of pleasure.
“Roses aren’t difficult to grow,” says Oz, who is a master gardener living in Harwich. He has had plenty of experience raising these plants both on the Cape and elsewhere. “We moved over 300 roses from our garden in New Jersey when we moved to the Cape 15 years ago,” he explains. “We were serious rose growers for seven years before we moved, being very active in the Garden State Rose Society.”
Irwin, owner of The Rose Man design and rose care service (www.therosemannursery.com) agrees that given the right attention, roses can be grown in any sunny garden. The first key to success with these plants is that crucial word: sunny.
Before any rose plants are purchased the homeowner should assess the amount of nonstop sunlight that falls on the garden over the course of an entire day. “Most roses need at least six-hours of direct sun,” Irwin explains, “and more is better.”
Roses are most likely to thrive when those hours of sunshine include the noon hour when the light is strongest. So finding these areas is the first step to success. “If you put a bush in the wrong place around your home or garden,” Oz advises, “you’ll be disappointed when that plant’s performance doesn’t meet your expectations.”
The next important action is undertaken when the rose is purchased. “Most people get in trouble buying beauty at the nursery,” Oz explains. Garden centers are frequently filled with many types of roses, and often these plants are budded or in bloom.
Shoppers usually fall for plants that have the type of blooms that look as if they’re fresh from the florist, but these types may not be the easiest to keep alive. “Hybrid teas are very difficult to grow and require special care,” says Oz.