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7th Avenue Rose Garden
'7th Avenue Rose Garden'  photo
Photo courtesy of Le_Not
  Listing last updated on 16 Jan 2022.
United States
USDA Zone: 5b
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Iowa is not known as a terribly rose-friendly climate: we have hot, humid summers with regular drought, and bitterly cold winters (often without consistent snow cover). My garden is thus an experiment: mostly I just want to know whether one can grow beautiful roses here without resorting to extreme winter-protection measures. (The most I do is a few shovelfuls of mulch around the base of the less-hardy plants, and some wire caging to deter rabbits.)

My roses are all own-root. Certain varieties are quite difficult to find on their own roots, but I consider it worth the trouble. I find myself drawn particularly to nineteenth-century roses, which I think best balance the charms of old roses with repeat-flowering. There are of course some Austins too, for good measure. My gardening philosophy is nearly entirely organic: any martyrs to blackspot will be discarded.

The soil here is a clay-loam that's fairly alkaline (7.5); I've worked plenty of compost into it, more to improve drainage than anything else. I have a mix of sun, partial shade, and dappled shade, due to two ancient and venerable black walnut trees on the lot. (That's something else I am testing: whether roses truly mind the chemical juglone produced by these trees. There seems to be a variety of opinions on this matter.) I consider myself fortunate that I have an east-facing backyard, so most of my roses are protected from the hottest afternoon sun.

I entreat other rose-growers with experience in such conditions to share any advice they may have. I only started this endeavor in 2019, so I have much to learn!
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