Hanza Rose
Rosa Hansa



     Most climbers and ramblers do not do well in northern conditions, with the exception of Polstjarnan and a few of the Explorers. Climbers can be grown on trellises and carefully laid flat for the winter, if one has the time and space to do this. Otherwise, the exposed parts of the plant, above the snowline, are usually killed back. It is also difficult to find good rich yellow roses that are tolerant of the northern climatic extremes. Most yellow roses originate from the tender, warmer climate of the mid-east and Orient. Parentage (genetics) is really the key to hardiness.

     Barbara has simple, yet effective growing strategies. Her roses are grown in mixed beds around and amidst winter hardy trees, shrubs and under-plantings of as many perennials and small bulbs as she can squeeze in. This provides the plants with an environment similar to nature’s own design. Layers of plants provide shelter, leaf-litter (natural mulch), and habitat for beneficial insects. Protection from winter wind is fundamental to the roses’ survival. Fences, hedges, trees and anything else, which can be utilized as a windbreak is vital. Wind chill factors can drop the temperatures to 70 Celsius! As Barbara says, microclimate is everything and can be created through intelligent design.

     Barbara plants her roses with a shovelful of compost and a handful of bone meal. They are watered in well and the soil is firmed down. Three inches of aged wood chip is added to the soil surface. This is as much care as most of her plants get. Barbara strongly urges people to do a soil test. Soils in her region are for example generally very low in boron and sulphur. When added (as micronutrients), these elements can contribute greatly to the success of rose growth and survival.

     In spring after the snow has disappeared, (April or May) Barbara walks through her rose beds and prunes. She will prune off the tips that have died back over winter and also prunes minimally for shape. Any roses that have succumbed are simply torn out. As she states, if they die, there is something waiting to take their place. A thorough weeding takes place at the same time. In the latter portion of spring or early summer, she top-dresses with slow release fertilizer.16-10-10 with micro-nutrients, as required based on the soil test. Where necessary extra aged wood chip is added. Later in autumn an additional top dressing of compost is added to some beds on a rotating basis, preferably after the first hard frost.

     One cannot imagine roses suffering from disease in such harsh climate, and basically that is true. Occasionally roses contained in  enclosed areas with poor air circulation, will encounter blackspot, especially during cool, wet summers. Blackspot tends to be cultivar specific and it is recommended that these types of roses not be grown in areas prone to blackspot. Anything that weakens a rose in a challenging climate is best avoided

     Insects are another issue. They thrive even in the northern most regions. After mild winters, large populations of aphids appear. Barbara claims that due to her style of mixed plantings, she doesn’t find them to be much of a problem. She feels that a monoculture would be more of a magnet to these bugs. Her mixed beds also provide a refuge for lady bugs and other predatory insects.

     Tent caterpillars also periodically pose a problem in the north.  They come in droves and strip the foliage off of everything ‘tasty’ in sight! Healthy rose bushes usually leaf out again after a caterpillar assault, and in general the caterpillars come in cycles.Spraying Bt can help, but the forest tent caterpillars travel in masses and are sometimes nearly impossible to control. Barbara, although not totally an organic grower and gardener, does not freely use pesticides. There are many beneficial creatures and organisms roaming amongst her beds and gardens and she prefers to allow the balance of nature to work.


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