10 hardy roses to plant in your garden

Garden pro Charles Oberdorf shares his top 10 rose varieties for hardy, easy-care blooms.

Hardy roses to plant in your garden: 1-5
1. John Cabot (Shrub/climber, 2 m high x 2 m wide)
Introduced to the market 20 years ago, this was the first of the great Explorer roses hybridized by Felicitas Svejda for Agriculture Canada. A sprawly shrub easily trained as a climber, 'John Cabot' produces fragrant multipetalled, 7.5-centimetre-wide flowers, first and most prolifically in June, then sporadically until freeze-up. Field-tested in Ottawa since 1970, it's resistant to mildew and black spot and hardy to Zone 3. It also tolerates the Prairies' high summer temperatures well.

2. Ballerina
(Hybrid Musk, 120 cm high x 120 cm wide)
As enchanting as its name suggests, 'Ballerina' begins the season dense with mop-headed clusters of small (three centimetres across) blossoms, then keeps them coming, a bit less densely, all season. It prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade as well as such other hardships as polluted city air and heavy or stony soil. As its category suggests, 'Ballerina' has a seductive musky fragrance. Close cousin 'Mozart' is more vibrantly red. 'Ballerina' is hardy to Zone 5 if planted in a sheltered spot rather than an exposed one where winter winds are bad.

3. The Fairy
(Polyantha, 60 cm high x 120 cm wide)
'The Fairy' is a vigorous, low-growing landscape rose known for its dense, cushion-forming habit and impressive spread, which can be more than double its height. Not quite a ground cover, but close, it's ideal for small gardens. It's also the world's favourite polyantha (dwarf) rose thanks to its season-long production of small (2.5 centimetres across) blossoms. It rarely gets sick and is reliably hardy, unprotected, to -15ºC, or to Zone 5. Gardeners who live in areas colder than Zone 5 should mulch well and preferably plant it near a south-facing stone or brick wall for the reflected heat and shelter from north winds.

4. Morden Blush
(Shrub, 90 cm high x 90 cm wide)
Of the winter-hardy roses bred at Agriculture Canada's Morden (Man.) Research Station, 'Morden Blush' is best for those places that not only have severe winters but hot summers. It is, therefore, the Morden hybrid that's most widely sold in southern Canadian garden centres but its lightly fragrant blossoms can also be found in places as cold as Zone 2. After a big early show, the flowers repeat throughout the season.

5. Iceberg
(Floribunda, 120 cm high x 120 cm wide)
In 1983 the World Federation of Rose Societies voted this the world's favourite rose - for good reason. Given diligent deadheading, a bush will produce wave after wave of bloom in clusters of three to seven flowers, each one about 7.5 centimetres across. Nearly thornless, somewhat shade-tolerant and only mildly susceptible to black spot, its main drawback is a relatively weak fragrance. Cold-hardy to Zone 4, 'Iceberg' keeps flowering until frosts get serious.

Page 2 of 3 – Find five more rose varieties that thrive in Canadian gardens on page 3.

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