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Is there a 'best rose' for Sacramento?

Master rosarian offers her suggestions, shares tips with Farmer Fred

Apricot and lavender rose bloom
"Distant Drums" is a winner in Sacramento, says
master rosarian Charlotte Owendyk. (Photos courtesy
Charlotte Owendyk)

January is the perfect time for pruning roses. It’s also a great opportunity to plant roses.

But which one? There are so many, many rose varieties – more than 30,000 still available in commerce. Is there a “best rose” for Sacramento? For America?

"Farmer Fred" Hoffman, longtime Sacramento gardening expert, posed those questions to Roseville master rosarian Charlotte Owendyk during his latest “Garden Basics with Farmer Fred” podcast. Owendyk, who grows hundreds of roses in her own garden, is well known for her pruning demonstrations and rose talks. During the podcast, she covered some of the pruning pointers from the Sierra Foothills Rose Society’s recent winter rose care workshop.

As for the subject of “best rose,” it depends on who’s growing it and where. Charlotte shared her favorite “bulletproof roses,” varieties that bloom beautifully under a wide range of growing conditions and circumstances – cold winters, hot summers and everything in between.

Her adaptable favorite is an oldie but goody that’s hard to find: 'Distant Drums." Introduced in 1985, it’s a shrub rose with 4-inch blooms that blend orange and purple tones like a Western sunset.

“One rose that can really take the heat and the cold is ‘Distant Drums,’ which has a very distinct coloration,” she says. “The petals are apricot-colored in the center, surrounded by lavender on the outer petals. It’s hardy down to USDA Zone 4, and has a wonderful strong scent with great disease resistance.”

Zone 4 gets down to 0 degrees (or colder); that’s tough!

Her bulletproof floribundas include two old stand-bys: "Iceberg" and "Burgundy Iceberg." They both do well almost anywhere and are a lot easier to find than "Distant Drums." Introduced in 1958, "Iceberg" is ubiquitous in California parking lots; it’s a white rose that can take pollution and still look good. "Burgundy Iceberg" is a purple version of its close cousin.

White and pink rose
"Secret" is a frequent bloomer and very fragrant.

As for roses that bloom rapidly again and again, Charlotte recommends a popular hybrid tea: "Secret." Introduced in 1992, this rose produces large, pointed, cream-colored blooms with a blush of pink.

“Normally, hybrid tea roses take five or six weeks to rebloom after deadheading,” she says. “For ‘Secret,’ it’s only four to five weeks. That’s why it’s one of my favorite roses. Plus it’s very fragrant.”

Other roses on Charlotte’s bulletproof list include the shrub roses Belinda’s Dream, Lyda Rose and Sally Holmes (which can also be grown as a climber), the floribunda Cinco de Mayo and the hybrid teas Gemini and Memorial Day.

Hear more here:

Also, listen to Fred and Charlotte talk winter rose care during their full podcast, “Prune-ciples: Rose Pruning Tips for Maximum Roses,” at .

At that link, you’ll find a full library of Farmer Fred podcasts.

Rather read than listen? Sign up for Farmer Fred’s Garden Basics newsletter: .


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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