One Tough, Showy Rose

It doesn't need spraying. It doesn't need watering. It doesn't need fertilizing. Frankly, it's beginning to sound like chestnut rose isn't a rose at all.

It doesn't need spraying. It doesn't need watering. It doesn't need fertilizing. Frankly, it's beginning to sound like chestnut rose isn't a rose at all.

But, of course, it is. A large, gangly shrub growing 5 to 7 feet high and wide, chestnut rose (Rosa roxburghii) bears plump, showy blossoms of bright pink. The bush blooms heavily in spring, then off and on throughout summer and fall. Pretty as they are, the flowers don't set this rose apart. That honor goes to curious prickles, reminiscent of spiny chestnut burrs. They cover both hips and buds, giving the plant its name. Chestnut rose's leathery green foliage is also noteworthy as it is immune to black spot and powdery mildew.

Once established, this rose is tougher than Grade D beef. It can easily live in a garden for a century or more with absolutely no care. Many years ago, Liz Tedder of Newnan, Georgia, received one from an old friend, Julia Blackburn. Julia had gotten her start from her mother years before. Liz says chestnut rose sends up suckers periodically, so it's easy to pass along.

Nice as it is, chestnut rose isn't perfect. For one thing, Japanese beetles love to eat the blooms, even though they aren't the least bit fragrant. Moreover, it's one of the spiniest roses around.

Despite these failings, it deserves a place in your garden. If you hate spraying, watering, and fertilizing, this is the rose for you.