The Rose Garden contains many of the Garden's robust rose collection and is in the midst of a multi-year renovation. Upon completion, it will feature over 100 different cultivars of roses, selected for their ability to thrive in Southern gardens.
Heat, humidity and heavy clay soils are some of the challenges roses face in this climate, and in recent years, a plant virus – rose rosette – has become a major threat. This virus causes gnarled new growth and rapid decline. With the absence of a cure, action is being taken to replace roses that are known to have this disease. The Garden selects roses that adapt to these conditions rather than relying on chemical sprays. The selections also illustrate a preference for older cultivars which have withstood the test of time.
In early spring, horticulturists top-dress with composted horse manure. To minimize black spot, botrytis and other fungal diseases caused by excess moisture, horticulturists promote air flow by removing spent flowers or "deadheading" throughout the growing season, pruning lightly in late summer and thoroughly in late February to remove dead canes and encourage new growth.
Old Garden Roses
“Old Garden Roses” are all classes of roses that existed before the introduction of the first hybrid tea (in 1867) and represents the bulk of the collection. They vary immensely in their growth habit, fragrance, color, size and flower form. Included in this garden are Albas, Bourbons, Damasks, Gallicas, Mosses, Noisettes, Polyanthas, Portlnds, Chinas, Hybrid Perpetuals, Teas and Hybrid Musks.
There are also a few “found” roses in the collection – roses that have been rediscovered growing in old home sites and cemeteries, often flourishing with little care. Until rose scholars can properly identify the original cultivar name, it is assigned a new name, like ‘Martha Gonzales’, which is named for the woman who owned the home where this particular rose was found.