True Confession: My ‘Winnipeg Parks’ love affair

Oh, where do I begin?

Shrub roses are faithful garden lovers, I have discovered. I had always sort of overlooked them — like sweet science nerds and band geeks in high school — but I designed three garden spaces at a retirement community this past summer and I fell under the magic spells they cast. They’re tough and they’re gorgeous. The love affair lasts all summer. And they smell good. My client was looking for color and pizzazz with low maintenance and ta-da, the shrub rose entered stage left and took the focus.

Rosa 'Winnipeg Parks'
Rosa ‘Winnipeg Parks’ is a candy colored bloom, almost too pink for photos.

Rosa ‘Winnipeg Parks’ is a member of the Canadian developed Parkland series and was introduced in 1990, so he’s been around the block a few times and proven himself a reliable boyfriend in the sunny border. Like all roses, he needs full sun. No scrimping by on this matter. But once you give him this and regular watering (well drained soil, please), he will put on a show like you’ve never seen. You’ll swoon. Cherry pinkish-red blooms, the color of which they name lipsticks after, fill the bush, which gets to about 3-feet wide by 3-feet tall. The blooms are big, the size of small oranges, and have a delicate, rosy fragrance. The foliage is tinted burgundy. Like all good garden lovers, he’s completely disease-free.

Rosa 'Winnipeg Parks'
Rosa ‘Winnipeg Parks’ is a lovely rose with burgundy-tinted foliage.

I have a go-to guy at my Bachman’s garden center on Lyndale. (Note: I say, my Bachman’s. We get very possessive of our nurseries, don’t we?)  When I need some down-and-dirty advice, I hunt him down. I know when he works and I look for him. He’s got really good, down-to-earth, tangible bits of wisdom. I sought him out last summer when I couldn’t figure out why another fave shrub rose, ‘Pavement Purple’ (gorgeous rose, intoxicating smell, pedestrian name) didn’t flower much. He asked me: “Do you fertilize?” There was no judgement. I got it. You’ve still got to fertilize these hardy garden soldiers.

'Music box' shrub rose
No tot cheat on my fave, but ‘Music box’ shrub rose is a beauty.

I’ve had lovely luck with Rose-tone, an organic fertilizer that gives your roses all they need. If you are planting new roses in the garden, add it when you dig the hole. You can scratch and water it in to existing rose plants. Good stuff!

Roses are like great lovers. They are true, they stay with you, they are gorgeous and they keep you hanging on. Give me more!

'Apricot Blush' shrub rose
Also, ‘Apricot Blush’ shrub rose is a petite little sweetheart.
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