By Darrell g.h. Schramm
Because Solano County invites temperatures above 85 degrees during the summer months, many of us have, in retaliation as it were, invited shadowy characters into our landscapes and gardens.
Usually that means we have welcomed trees and shrubs to grant us shade and some cooling. Those of us who love roses have heard over and over again that roses love sun. But what if we have more shade than the love of roses seems to require?
The fact is that some roses -- not many, mind you -- are shade tolerant.
Let me suggest then a dozen shady ladies and a few shadowy gents of the rose family who can do with less sun than most. I will also name some non-rose escorts -- other plants -- to accompany those roses.
Morning sun with shade in the afternoon or dappled sunlight is usually enough for these roses. A rose such as Complicata or the 1913 hybrid musk Moonlight, for example, will grow under a tree and, with some training, even climb into it. Of course, well-draining soil, sufficient water, and nutrients are a given.
One shady lady in white is Sally Holmes. Her whiteness doesnt disguise her bold, buxom growth and prolific bloom, spring through autumn. A tall one (to seven feet), she can do with companion plants around her naked knees. Danae, also a hybrid musk, is a medium yellow rose, growing to five feet, with arching canes. The color and shape fit this mythic beauty who was visited (and impregnated) by Zeus in a shower of gold. Ghislaine de Feligonde dresses herself in apricot pink, sometimes a blended yellow with pink. Since she is a rambler, generous with reblooms, she needs space.
The other shady gals favor various hues of pink. Felicite Parmentier, one of the most fragrant, is clothed in pearl pink. Shes an old Alba rose from 1855. Equally highly fragrant, Great Maidens Blush is an even older Alba from before 1550, who accentuates her soft blush pink with a coat of grey leaves.
Sometimes we desire thorns -- to keep out deer, robbers, and other creatures. A hedge of Sarah Van Fleet might serve the bill. About five feet high and not quite as wide, she is a very thorny hybrid rugosa in clear pink. A late Bourbon rose of 1919, Kathleen Harrop is also a clear pink, a climber growing ten feet tall. Konigin von Danemark (Queen of Denmark), an Alba with a lovely scent and modest growth, is a warm pink. Theresa Bugnet, another hybrid rugosa, is a bright pink. Dont begrudge her tendency to send up suckers too much since her flowers are as lovely as they-- and she -- are loose.
A grand dowager of the Bourbon family, Louise Odier wears rose-pink. She is both old-fashioned, unforgettable, and five by four -- not an hourglass figure. Cornelia, a loose-limbed, somewhat spindley gal in my experience, is a coral pink blending with age into a blush. Zepherine Drouhin, though somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew, is another Bourban rose, a profuse bloomer with wonderfully scented blossoms of medium pink -- among my favorites.
The twelfth is a rose of legend: Nur Mahal, a bright red, with some quilling (that is, a white streak on the occasional petal), growing eight to 10 feet. Remarkably disease-free, she does well, trained to a pillar. Supposedly she is named for the wife of Emperor Juhangir of India, as the woman who discovered attar of roses (rose oil) -- though some claim it was her mother who did so. Nur Mahal was the aunt of the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was built.
Some of the shady male characters are Alberic Berbier, a rambler bearing creamy white blooms with yellow centers; Alfred de Dalmas, a tidy pink shrub; Fritz Nobis, a six-foot gent suited in varying shades of apricot, cream, and pink, and not prone to blackspot or mildew; the distinctive Ferdinand Pichard, a tall hybrid perpetual who flaunts intense fuchsia and pink stripes. The red Henry Kelsey is good for a trellis or fence.
If you are interested in low life, Ralphs Creeper is an excellent groundcover; his orange-red petals are yellow and white on the reverse side. He wears an apple blossom cologne. Deeply red and exquisite, with an old rose scent, is Souvenir du Dr. Jamain, a hybrid perpetual whose long canes can be pegged in arches to the ground, thereby stimulating him to send out even more shoots and thus more flowers.
Charles de Mills is an old gallica whose date and rose breeder are lost in the mists of time. This rich mauve rose on an erect bush can reach six feet and is sometimes called the perfect Old Garden Rose.
(A few neutered characters you might also consider are Alba Semi-plena, Ballerina, Bougainville, Little White Pet, Sea Foam and The Fairy.)
A garden of only roses can be monotonous. Variety of color, shape, leaf, and flower add texture and thus interest to a garden. Depending on the space around, beneath, between, or behind your shade-tolerant roses, you may want to include other shade-loving companion plants.
Among the larger and bushier plants are oakleaf hydrangeas (especially Hydrangea quercifolia Snow Queen) and Hydrangea paniculata Limelight, most azaleas, and fragrant hostas such as Aphrodite, Honeybells, and Venus. Sweetspire (Itea virginica) has pendulous, clustered flowers, tiny but fragrant: Henrys Garnet grows three or four feet high and a bit wider; Saturnalia and Little Henry are smaller. White wood asters (Aster divaricatus) thrive in shade as well.
Meadow rue (Thalictrum aquilegifolium) creates clouds of fluffy lilac-colored flowers on two to three foot slender stems, somewhat like Heuchera. Foxgloves (Digitalis) are thick with flowers on more solid stalks from two to six feet high or so. Peach Blossom astilbe, a very fragrant plant of pale salmon pink, grows to two feet. Cranesbill (both Geranium phaeum and G. sylvaticum) do well in shady moist ground.
Western Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa) grows one to three feet high. Its soft green leaves and pink heart-shaped flowers contrast well dark-leafed roses.
Shorter, and growing in a clump, is the Lenten Rose Hellebore (Helleborus orientalis) offering white, cream, pink, purple, and green colors, some with spots. Campanula of various sorts -- trailing, creeping, or tufted -- serve as groundcover in blues and white. And finally, violets, of course, are another choice of shade-loving plants for these shady ladies and shadowy gents, the shade-tolerant roses.