Lee Ginenthal loves roses. And it’s a good thing for me, and for all you cold climate gardeners out there, that Lee decided to focus on hardy roses which thrive in USDA hardiness zones 5, 4, and even 3.Lee operates Der Rosenmeister nursery from his home outside of Ithaca, NY. I visited there in mid-June with Elizabeth Licata, editor of Buffalo Spree, who also blogs at Gardening While Intoxicated and Garden Rant. We were in Ithaca to visit the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days gardens, but I wanted to pick up a rose my daughter admired for her birthday.
The Germans Have Us Beat
Hardy roses can be found in all classifications and types, from heirlooms to recent hybrids, from shrubs to ramblers to climbers. Lee was quick to point out that the Germans are way ahead of us in breeding roses for cold hardiness and disease resistance, thanks to the leadership of the Kordes nursery. For example, their Vigorosa roses are “known for disease resistance, cold hardiness, ease of care and constancy of bloom.”
A Hardy Rose Sampler
June is the perfect time to visit a rose nursery, as most of the spring bloomers are at the height of their powers. Roses just spilled out everywhere. If you ever doubted that roses could grow in cold climates, a walk around the display gardens would have put that doubt to rest. As we toured the nursery, Lee gave us a running commentary on each rose as we drew near it. Here’s some of what he shared with us.
‘Brite Eyes’, hybridized by Bill Radler, is genetically resistant to rose midge. “It is a pink blend, smallish climber/large shrub- disease free, broad leaved foliage, beautiful buds showing pink and yellow.”
” ‘Russell’s Cottage Rose’ is an hybrid multiflora rambler from before 1826, violet-red fading to lavender and slate gray, strong fragrance, hardy to zones 3-4, very vigorous 10 to 20 feet.”
‘Kazanlik’, also called Rosa damascena tringintipetala, is one of the roses used to make attar of roses. As you might expect, it is wonderfully fragrant and great for potpourri. We had a sniff of Lee’s shrub, and ah, yes! it smells like roses! Lee didn’t mention its hardiness, but Growing Roses in Cold Climates
says it is hardy to Zone 5.
” ‘Lillian Gibson’ is a Rosa blanda hybrid, developed by Niels Hansen in 1938. It is hardy to zone 3, a once bloomer with a sweet fragrance and thornless new growth that is red in the winter.” (Also pictured in the top photo of the nursery.)
‘Geschwinds Schönste’ was long considered the best hardy multiflora red climber. “It fades to pink from red as it ages. Probably zone 4. I believe it is superseded now by ‘Quadra’, a Canadian Explorer red climber.” (More about Geschwind here.)
‘Red Corsair’ “is a Kordes climber- gorgeous red new growth, blood red flowers. Stunning in the landscape. Can be grown as a large shrub or climber.” (This rose has a lot of names: KORramalu, ‘Temptress’, and ‘Rote Korsar’.)
Custom Propagation, But No Mail Order
At the present time, Lee does not ship roses. You’ll just have to visit his nursery, where you can see the roses trained on every kind of structure imaginable. He makes the structures himself.
Lee does, however, custom propagate roses, as he explains, “For custom propagation, customers need to let me know by July 1 what they want propagated and pay for it then… I get my propagating done the first week in July or work to locate a source for them. The rose would be available the following May.”
A Horticultural Vacation
If you can reasonably drive to Ithaca, NY, you’ll find plenty of other horticultural places of interest to visit, even if you don’t manage to arrive for an Open Days weekend.