There are also some lovely disease-resistant heirloom roses. The rugosas are among the healthiest—and toughest—of all roses, and their rough leaves are rarely infected. I especially like ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ (Zone 3), with its super-scented, semidouble white flowers; and ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ (Zone 2), with single pink flowers. Both have splendid orange-red hips.
Another group of disease-resistant roses are the hybrid musks. Their scent is superb and they have an unusually long flowering season. ‘Cornelia’ (Zone 6), in apricot fading to pink, and silvery pink ‘Felicia’ (Zone 6) are the ones to pick.
Then there are modern roses. Breeders once assumed their roses would be sprayed and never considered disease resistance. But top German breeder Kordes has not sprayed the seedlings from which it selects new varieties for more than 30 years. In Britain, Harkness Roses have been spray-free since 1998, and in Texas, The Antique Rose Emporium also refuses to spray. In the absence of fungicide sprays, seedlings with genetic resistance to diseases rise to the top of the trials.
Most of the recently introduced Kordes varieties are unusually healthy. I especially like ‘Kosmos’ (Zone 5), with peach-centered white flowers. From Harkness, the English Legend Series is worth looking at; again, focus on the more recent introductions. Among American varieties, take a look at the Pioneer Roses from Antique Rose Emporium and, of course, the Knock Out Series and the Oso Easy Series.
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