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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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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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