The heart of the Garden and center stage for many of our events, classes and weddings, we have redesigned and enhanced the Rose Garden. Our new Rose Garden demonstrates how roses can be integrated into the garden to add interest, beauty and color throughout the year. In addition to many beautiful roses, numerous flowering shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses and bulbs are incorporated, providing yearlong interest.
Winter interest is created with ornamental grasses, and shrubs such as Midwinter Fire Dogwood. In the spring, as the Lilacs and Magnolias fill the air with fragrance, the yellow flowers of the Forsythia will start their beautiful display. Summer bursts into bloom with the Roses, complimented by the Hydrangeas, Russian Sage, Daylily and a brilliant display of annuals. The ornamental grasses take center stage in the fall as their plumes peak. Lastly, many classic rose companion plants like lavender, boxwood and catmint, are be repeated throughout the garden, imparting a strong sense of order and continuity to a very diverse plant palette.
Of course the garden has a great collection of roses. The garden keeps most of the AARS (All-America Rose Selections) roses in large contiguous drifts of like colors. One of the better new roses is Knock Out, part of the impressive Knock Out Series. Knock Out Rose Rosa 'Radrazz' is a compact, 3-4’ tall, shrub rose. With cherry red flowers, it blooms prolifically throughout the summer and often till frost. The foliage is a dark purplish green and turns to burgundy in the fall. Knock Out, drought-tolerant winter-hardy and disease resistant, is truly a winner.
We have integrated some very impressive low maintenance shrub roses. One of my personal favorites is Frau Dagmar Rose Rosa ‘Frau Dagmar Hartopp’ or Rosa ‘Frau Dagmar Hastrup.’ It is a tough little rose, reaching 3-4’ in height and spread, with no disease problems. Soft pink and lightly fragrant, the flowers are single and tissue-like in texture. It will bloom heavily in late May and June and sporadically till frost. Large deep red hips, starting in July, present a beautiful display well into winter. The foliage, remaining disease free, is dark green turning yellow to orange in fall. Another great shrub rose, Blanc Double de Coubert Rose Rosa rugosa 'Blanc Double de Coubert' produces stunning white semi-double, fragrant flowers sporadically from spring to fall, which are sometimes followed by orange hips. Growing to 6 feet in height and width, it is tolerant of harsh conditions, including salt spray, wind and poor soil. It is perfect for mixed borders, hedges and for use as a specimen plant.
Flowering trees and shrubs serve as both a backdrop and a frame for the rose display. Some of those incorporated include Burkwood Viburnum, Dwarf Korean Lilac, Midwinter Fire Dogwood, Panicle Hydrangea and Sunrise Forsythia. Panicle Hydrangeas provide late summer bloom when few other shrubs are in flower. They have white flower clusters in mid-summer that fade to pink and often persist well into winter. Once the flower heads attain the pink cast, they are ideal for dried arrangements. Reminiscent of the old-fashioned Pee Gee Hydrangea, its habit is upright to almost weeping, giving it an overall vase shape. They can be planted as a group within the mixed border or hedge. Hydrangeas are also very effective planted as a specimen or as an accent in the garden. A pair of Star Magnolias Magnolia stellata, flank the walkway and better define the axis that terminates on a large fountain. A smaller magnolia, M. stellata is a dense, slow growing shrub or tree noted for its showy 3-4" white fragrant flowers in early spring. Rounded to oval habit, it has handsome dark green foliage that turns gold to deep bronze in fall.
Perennials, ornamental grasses and bulbs play a very big role in providing yearlong interest within the garden. Some of the perennials to be incorporated will include Russian Sage, Feather Reed Grass, Prairie Dropseed, Lavender, Catmint, Goldenrod, Arkansas Bluestar, Casablanca Lily, Rosin Weed, Happy Returns Daylily and Cranesbill. Like the sun-bleached walls of Morocco, the pure white 'Casablanca' Lily has both stature and character, reaching 3-5' tall. A hardy Oriental Lily, it blooms in mid summer with huge 10" white flowers centered on striking red stamens. The most important attribute is the, often overlooked, fragrance. Combined with a drift of lavender, it will fill the air with a memorable fragrance.