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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 Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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