I too admired redleaf roses before putting one in last year. But I am struggling with how to use it effectively in my own garden.
Rosa glauca is a tall, leggy shrub that needs something solid near it, under it, or behind it, partly to bulk up its sparse form and partly to contrast with its wispy, smoky colored foliage. Here are several ways I have seen it used well:
|Love this -- it arches gracefully over a rustic fence, but is anchored by a very large bird condo nearby,|
and there is complexity in the different levels of greenery behind it to showcase the form and fine foliage.
I saw this on a local garden tour.
|This one leans over. It contrasts with the red maple behind and the bold hosta|
foliage below and some big rocks to the right. The leaves are not so gray-green in this light.
This was seen at a garden tour in a nearby town.
|The massive rock wall gives this leggy rose some visual oomph below, and the barn adds |
some solid structure in the distance behind. Again, in this light the foliage was greener.
This is another example from the local garden tour in town.
|Industrial railroad ties running below this fuller, rangier rosa glauca give it some weight.|
I saw this one growing on the High Line in Manhattan.
The examples I saw all had hardscape around them and complex plantings behind them. My Rosa glauca is unfortunately sitting in a garden border at the edge of the lawn. There is no harsdcape or structure nearby. It's not working.
|Mine is young and funny shaped and very blue. |
There is nothing nearby to contrast with or to give it any bulk.
Rosa glauca is a chameleon of a plant. Some days it is gray, other days it is greener, as you can see in the variability of the several photos above. In evening light it can look positively blue. There are very red tints to the leaves, which accounts for its name "redleaf rose".
The flowers are small and pink and only last very briefly in June. They are single and simple and pretty in a stark way, but you don't plant this for roses, you plant it for the odd, variable, changing leaves.
I thought this would be an eye-catching specimen at the edge of a border, but when I look at the examples that I admired, I can see now that I need something nearby. A rock, a wall, more complex companion plantings.
I really like this plant, I just don't like the way it looks in my garden. I got some redesigning to do.
A question for those of you who grow Rosa glauca -- Do you coppice it to the ground each year? Does that help keep it a nicer form? I know it still gets leggy, but can you keep it from looking so rangy by cutting it back? Or do you just let it go?