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Two red roses that salute veterans

Veterans' Honor and Let Freedom Ring stand out in any garden

Large red rose in full bloom
Let Freedom Ring was created by an amateur hybridizer
and World War II veteran. (Photos courtesy American
Rose Society)

Veterans Day celebrates all Americans who served their country. With those red-blooded heroes in mind, two of the best red roses ever created salute veterans, too.

Each stands out in any garden and instantly commands attention. As cut flowers, they’re an instant tribute in a vase.

At first glance, Veterans’ Honor and Let Freedom Ring look very similar. Both are classic hybrid tea roses with elegant long buds, pinpoint centers and vivid red color.

A sniff can tell them apart. Veterans’ Honor is described by distributor Jackson & Perkins as “raspberry red” with a raspberry scent to match. Let Freedom Ring is called “strawberry red” and has virtually no scent.

Both roses when fully open measure more than 5 inches across; Veterans’ Honor has slightly more petals, 30 compared to 25 for Let Freedom Ring.

And both roses have been marketed as tributes to America’s veterans. When originally released by Jackson & Perkins as its 2000 Rose of the Year, Veterans’ Honor helped raise funds for veterans, with a portion of sales proceeds supporting veterans’ health care.

Large raspberry red rose
Veterans' Honor was the Jackson & Perkins 2000 Rose of the Year.

Veterans’ Honor came from a long-established professional breeding program. Dr. Keith Zary, who created more than 400,000 hybrids during his long career at Jackson & Perkins, crossed Showstopper with an unnamed seedling from the hybrid tea Royalty. Registered in 1997, Veterans’ Honor was released by Jackson & Perkins three years later, and has been a garden star ever since.

Let Freedom Ring has a personal link to veterans; it was hybridized by a World War II veteran, Ernie Earman of Alexandria, Va. An amateur hybridizer, he crossed the grandiflora Prima Donna with the excellent exhibition hybrid tea rose Touch of Class, and registered his seedling in 2004.

The next year, Ernie’s red rose was first released as “2005 Better Homes & Gardens Rose,” a bonus for magazine readers. In Australia, it was released as “The Mandalay Rose.”

Weeks Roses in California acquired the rights to the rose and renamed it “Let Freedom Ring,” releasing it to commerce in 2006. And it has been a beautiful tribute to Ernie and other veterans ever since.

Both roses are still widely available. They’re tall plants, each growing more than 6 feet tall – great for long stems. Either rose is a colorful salute to veterans, not just one day but all year round.


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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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