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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 March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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