If you abandoned roses years ago because they were too fussy to grow, check out the trouble-free rose choices available at local garden centers this spring.
Newer varieties such as Knock Out and Double Knock Out in reds and pinks are about the most carefree roses you can find.
Flower Carpet roses, which are low-growing groundcover roses in white, yellow, pink, apple blossom, coral and red, also need little maintenance. You'll also find David Austin roses rugged and relentless in their vigor.
If light shade is your challenge, try Abraham Darby, Golden Celebration, Gertrude Jekyll and Graham Thomas. Hybrid musks also do well with little sun. The favored climbing rose for shade is Zepherine Drouhin.
Before you run out and prep that new rose garden, here's a peek at this year's four All-American Rose Selections - Julia Child, Rainbow Sorbet, Tahitian Sunset and Wild Blue Yonder - and the new commemorative, limited-edition Pope John Paul II white rose from Jackson & Perkins.
» Pope John Paul II
It's a hybrid tea rose with luscious long stems and pure white roses with a crisp fragrance. The rose will be planted this year in the Vatican gardens overlooking Saint Peter's Basilica; 10 percent of the net proceeds from sales of the roses will go to a charity benefiting the poor of Sub-Saharan Africa.
This year, the pope-inspired rose is available in a limited commemorative collection that includes a bare-root rose, engraved garden marker and embossed, silk-lined portfolio with a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity; it also bears one of the late pontiff's popular homilies. Price is $150, plus delivery and handling.
For 2007 delivery, you can reserve an unnumbered collection for $110 or a single bare-root rose at $24.95. To order, visit www.jacksonandperkins.com or call toll free (877) 322-2300.
» Julia Child
This floribunda with its clusters of butter-gold blooms is named for the late culinary celebrity. The rose has a rounded growth habit and good disease resistance. The rose perfumes your garden with the scent of sweet licorice.
» Rainbow Sorbet
Another floribunda, Rainbow Sorbet is just as cool and yummy as it sounds. It's a multi-color cluster-flowering rose that goes back to Playboy, from which it is descended.
» Tahitian Sunset
There's another slice of tropical paradise in this hybrid tea called Tahitian Sunset, which performed exceptionally well at Norfolk Botanical Garden. Blossoms start with orange-yellow buds that open fully to a peachy apricot-pink with yellow highlights.
» Wild Blue Yonder
This is the first rose in this color range to garner the All-American Rose Selections award since 1984. Each large wavy petal is a velvety warm wine-purple layered onto a richer lavender - hence the name Wild Blue Yonder. It exudes a perfume of sweet citrus and rose, and gives you the "shrubby" look with dark-green leaves.
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