Master Gardeners share love of roses, tips for growing

Published 9:56 pm Friday, March 15, 2019

Some gardeners shy away from growing roses, labeling them as high maintenance plants. But the Pike County Master Gardeners believe that roses are a must for most gardens.

According to “Miracle-Grow Complete Guide to Roses,” roses set the bar for floral beauty and excellence through their history, perfect flower form and intoxicating scent. Their image represents the concepts of love and perfection. It’s no wonder that roses are the most revered flower on earth.

When talking to Master Gardeners Nancy Powell and Nell Haigh, it is evident that they enjoy the roses in their gardens.           Powell says that one of her favorite roses is Carefree Beauty, also known as Katy Road Pink. She purchased this rose about 10 years ago and has enjoyed its’ beautiful blooms each year from May to late Fall.

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Carefree Beauty was developed in Iowa by Dr. Griffith Buck to stand the long, cold winters.  But it was also a good choice for Texas’ hot and dry summers. In 1977, it became Katy Road Pink after being found on Katy Road in Houston. Finally, in 2006, it was awarded the “Earth-Kind Rose of the Year” by the Texas Agrilife Extension Service(

Powell also remembers a story when talking about her rose. She had a dog also named Katie that liked the rose as well, since she made a path running to and from the rose each day. As happens with pets, Katie died, and was buried beneath the rose. Powell said that it seemed to be the perfect place for Katie’s resting place.

Haigh likes the Old Garden Roses. She also enjoys the history of these old roses. One of her favorites is Old Blush, which is a China rose. The China roses were cultivated in China over a thousand years ago. Actually, Old Blush is an Antique rose that is older than the Old Garden roses. The Antiques were the first repeat bloomers in the Western world and were introduced in Europe in 1792. This rose is also believed to have inspired the song “The Last Rose of Summer” by Thomas More, since it begins blooming in February and will bloom through December.

Since Old Blush has such a history, it is interesting that Haigh received her rose from her great-grandmother. She believes that passing plants down through the family adds to their history, and this is especially true with Old Blush.   

When asking these gardeners how they care for their roses, both agree that they require little care. They do plant them in full sun in an area where they can get plenty of ventilation. Neither of the gardeners uses spray; however, they do amend the soil with micronutrients such as banana peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, and crushed egg shells.

One of my favorite roses is the Peggy Martin rose, also known as the Hurricane Katrina rose. Not only is it a beautiful, hardy, thornless, disease resistant rose that has thousands of pink blooms; there is an interesting story behind this rose.

The owner of the rose Peggy Martin lived in the path of the devastating  storm, Hurricane Katrina. During this time she suffered a terrible tragedy, losing both of her parents and her home as well. Their property was under 20 feet of salt water for two weeks. To her amazement the only plant that survived was the rose and a Crinium lily (Dr. Wm. C. Welch, Hence, the name, Peggy Martin, a beautiful rose that any gardener would find very easy to take care of. So gardeners, when you are wanting to plant another shrub, consider the hardy rose

Elaine Knight is a member of the Pike County Master Gardners, which are affiliated with the Pike County Extension Office.