by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
The mountains of Arizona are famous for easy-care roses. Because of the dry air and alkaline soils we just grow a better, brighter, more fragrant rose without the disease and insect issues that plague gardens in California and humid states. Every landscape and garden deserves at least one rose bush whether in the ground, raised bed, or a container.
Winners of the mountain roses for 2018 are those with fragrance, ease of care, long bloom cycles, and fadeless colors. The roses described below are by no means the only roses you’ll find here at Watters Garden Center this year, but they are the winners. Roses are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of popularity. Enjoy this year’s list of the best mountain roses.
Chihuly (Bright yellow blushing to orange and finishing deep red) floribunda – Buds of pure yellow swirl open to reveal blushes of bright orange. As the flowers age, deep reds appear for the grand finale. Deep green leaves and dark red new growth provide the perfect backdrop for the clusters of ever-flashy flowers. Showy but well-behaved, this clean blooming machine will add sparkle to any spot in the landscape.
Coffee Bean (Smoky red-orange inside, shiny rust-orange outside) miniature – This caffeinated cutie percolates in the garden, popping up one shapely bud after another set amid thick, glossy, green leaves. The well-formed flowers open to reveal a bright eye that lights up the landscape.
Daddy’s Little Girl (Rich rose pink with a lighter reverse) miniature – Well-behaved in the garden yet tends to be a show-off. Her tidy, compact habit is a natural addition to gardens with limited space, or in a patio pot. Be prepared for a parade of plentiful plush-pink buds with just a pinch of cream on the petals’ reverse. Perfectly proportioned green leaves make her pretty as a picture. Consistently cute in all gardens.
Diamond Eyes (Velvet black-purple with a white eye zone) miniature – Mysteriously novel black-purple draws the eye, and a whiff of the strong clove spice scent fills the sense of smell. It’s a killer combo sure to seduce even large rose lovers to try this little gem. A sparkling white ‘eye’ lights up each velvety blossom, illuminating the unique color against the background of glossy green leaves.
Dream Come True (Yellow-blushed ruby red ) Grandiflora – This clean, vigorous bush pumps out loads of long-stemmed scrumptious yellow blooms edged in ruby red. Each eye-catching flower changes from yellow to an all ruby finish, giving this bush a multi-colored display that’s genuinely dreamy in every way.
Drop Dead Red (Dark red velvet) floribunda – This killer color is genuinely a stop-them-dead-in-their-tracks kind of red that is certain to lure to lingering. And it remains that color red to the very finish.
Firefighters (Dusky velvet red) hybrid tea – This intensely fragrant long-stemmed rose in vibrant red is the epitome of the classic rose. You’ll love this vigorous bushy plant that provides armloads of buxom blossoms. The price of each of these plants sold at Watters Garden Center will go to a fund honoring brave American heroes fallen in the line of duty.
Gourmet Popcorn (Crisp bright white) shrub-let – Profusions of fat buds and fragrant, fresh blooms pop open in large cascading clusters. Proven as a consistent performer that is clean and mountain hardy.
Hope for Humanity (Velvety deep saturated red ) shrub rose – Big sprays of blooms give loads of color set against broad green leaves. Vigorous red flowers are fitting to honor the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Red Cross.
Lava Flow (Deep velvety red ) floribunda – Large glowing clusters of deep velvety red flowers continually flow from a blanket of glossy green leaves. Covered in ruffled flowers atop a well-behaved upright plant, this hardy bush easily tolerates our summer heat.
Let Freedom Ring (Bright light red ) hybrid tea – Many think the pinnacle of a rose is a long-stemmed red flower topped with scrumptious big buds. This striking trophy-stealer was lovingly created by WWII veteran and hybridizer, Ernest Earman of Virginia, and now is available in Arizona.
Love Song (Clear, clean, medium lavender) floribunda – Big, bold, beautiful blooms nearly cover this sultry siren. Her lovely lavender flowers just seem to last and last without turning an uninspiring gray. Underneath all that beauty is a chubby plant clothed in vibrant green leaves. It’ll be love at first sight, making you want to break out in song!
Marilyn Monroe (apricot washed with green that opens to pure creamy apricot) hybrid tea – This shapely rose is named to honor an American legend. The extraordinarily creamy color holds perfectly from the long pointed buds to the voluptuous blooms. A gown of deep green leaves graces these long- stemmed roses and their luscious fragrance.
Miss Congeniality (White edged in pink) grandiflora – The camera loves her picture-perfect buds and her flowers of everlasting pure white laced with pink. Her pleasant personality will be the center of attention in the garden, and her subtle radiance creates a warm, friendly atmosphere when displayed in a vase. Not only is she stunning visually, but she can defend herself from diseases as well.
Oranges ‘n’ Lemons (Pure yellow stripes on brilliant orange) shrub rose – Stripes of pure yellow splashed onto bright orange will grab even the most finicky rose buyer. Mahogany red foliage grows all season, maturing to an intense green. This bush is so vigorous that the fountainous habit can be trained as a climber!
Outta the Blue (Magenta blended with yellow ages to shades of lavender) shrub rose – Pictures cannot capture the full array of colors this beauty offers on just one gorgeous green plant! She bears free-flowing clusters of hardy roses that don’t stop all season long.
Purple Splash (Wine-purple speckled and striped with white) large climber – These splashy colors set against the bright granny-green foliage make for a killer combo on any fence, wall, or trellis. Vigorous, clean, and free-flowering, it readily blooms repeatedly.
Purple Tiger (Novel purple & white stripes) floribunda – Not just every flower, but every petal is a varying masterpiece of amazing purple, lavender, and white stripes, streaks, flecks, dots, and dashes. Plus there’s a powerful perfume of citrus blossom and rose.
Sexy Rexy (Double clear coral pink) floribunda – The most prolific producer of perfect pink blossoms you can place in a pot or raised bed. This sexy producer creates vigorous leaves with clamorous blooms in glamorous coral pinks. She’s just plain pretty.
Shockwave (Eye-searing hot yellow) floribunda – The flowers hold their searing yellow tones to the very end, dropping away from the well-behaved plant just in time to welcome the next round of blooms. Tidy enough to tuck into a landscape, lend an accent to a container, or top a rose tree.
Smokin’ Hot (Fiery orange overlaid with purple) hybrid tea – The smoky purple overlay on the fiery orange is unique to this rose. But it isn’t all about flames and smoke; it’s an intense bouquet factory.
Take it Easy (Velvety dark red with a lighter pink reverse) shrub rose – The healthy green foliage is the perfect background to showcase the teeming flower clusters. The plant’s healthy vigor and self-maintaining habit are other reasons it could be named the Easy-Care Rose of the year!
Twilight Zone (Scrumptious deep velvet purple) Grandiflora – Big fat buds open to extreme double flowers of deep velvet purple overlaid with a wisp of smoke. You will find its scents of clove and citrus easily fill the landscape. This year’s winner of Watters’ ‘Most Fragrant Rose Award’.
Watercolors Home Run (Yellow gold blushing in pink) shrub rose – Nearly always in color with its flowing gold clusters. Well-behaved habit, profuse flower production, and naturally disease resistant is the perfect lineup in this rose. Enjoy the seventh-inning stretch and let this rose be the MVP of your garden!
White Licorice (Lemon chiffon suffusing to white) floribunda – This color packs a powerful punch of unique fragrance with its aromatic flavors of sweet licorice and lemon. This bouquet producing plant has wonderfully formed buds that open into wavy wonders atop sturdy stems.
There you have it, the roses you’ll find mountain gardeners talking about in 2018. With 700+ roses showing at Watters Garden Center this summer, the variety of fragrances and colors are bound to provide the right rose for every garden.
View all of the 2018 rose winners at Pinterest.com/WattersGardenCenter.
Feeding roses with Watters ‘Flower Power 54‘ water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks produces HUGE blooms! Watering twice a week will keep roses fully plumped and thriving.
Plant roses now and enjoy fresh roses the rest of the year.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping local gardeners pick just the right roses here at Watters Garden Center.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted