Just one quick sniff of a tea rose can make anyone feel soft and fuzzy inside. Oh, how we wish we could grow tea rose gardens in Alberta! Unfortunately, the cold hard fact (literally) is that tea roses are rated for horticultural zone 5, and we are rated as zones 3 and 4 at best in central Alberta. There are some people who live here who have perfected the technique of getting tea roses to overwinter but it takes a strength and tenacity that even we Wallishes don’t often have. But all is not lost, there is hope for rose options here!
Tea roses can be grown in containers as an annual on sunny patios, decks, and porches that get at least 6 hours of sunlight and they will bloom all summer. Tea roses can even be used in a mixed container with other sun loving flowers and creative foliage.
For those who would like to grow roses as part of your landscape, there are options with blossoms that are still beautiful. There are many rose varieties to choose from.
The following list mentions series of rose bush types that are hardy for our area. Each series has rose varieties of different colours:
- Explorer Roses – These are the hardiest types of roses available and are continuing to be bred and developed in a program that began in the 1960s crossing hardy roses with tea roses. They have nice form, are easy to grow, disease resistant and hardy up to -35 C, depending on the variety. Explorer roses are named after Canadian historical figures such as David Thompson, Henry Hudson, and John Cabot. Be sure to check the individual tags for the extent of their hardiness.
- Parkland Roses – This series was bred at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba. They have good winter stamina, pretty form, and are also quite disease resistant. Favorite varieties include Winnipeg Parks, Morden Blush, Morden Sunrise, and Hope.
- Canadian Artist Roses – These are a continuation of rose breeding spawned from the 2 above programs but are now an industry driven program with the end goals being beauty, ease of care, disease resistance, and hardiness. Varieties include: Emily Carr, Oscar Peterson, Felix Leclerc, Bill Reid, and Campfire.
The future for rose gardens in Alberta is an optimistic one. When you have the opportunity, give one of the above rose varieties a try in your landscape.