April 21, 2022

Landscape roses: Tough as nails

Well-known for their low maintenance requirements and continuous flowering, landscape and ground cover roses are easy to care for and are gentler on the environment.

Red Meidiland landscape roses

Why landscape roses?

Roses adapt well to a wide range of climates and can enhance most gardens and satisfy almost every purpose. However, roses have had a reputation for being fussy, disease-prone and needing fancy pruning. 

With this in mind, rose breeders around the world set about inventing new shrub and landscape roses that are capable of coping with hot, dry summers and harsh winters, provide a range of colours with strong repeat flowering all season long and, importantly, have excellent disease tolerance. The one negative genetic trade-off in this breeding regime was generally diminished fragrance. 

The ground cover-type “landscape roses” can grow more horizontally than vertically and look good when planted en masse in groups, borders or as a hedge. These roses are mainly grown from cuttings, ensuring more abundant flowering, winter hardiness and disease resistance, and there is no graft to produce nuisance “suckers”. Pruning in winter encourages fresh growth and they can be pruned mechanically if desired.

Towns and cities frequently select these roses for mass planting in road medians, public streetscapes and parklands. Adelaide has many locations featuring these roses. 

City of Adelaide

Rose breeders striving for innovation

The internationally-renowned French Rose Breeder Meilland International led the way to introducing more hardy, disease-resistant roses long before the term “landscape roses” became fashionable. As Matthias Meilland said, “Landscape roses are a sustainable solution that brings beauty and efficiency”.

Meilland bred Swany in 1977 and La Sevillana in 1978; both performed well with minimal care. Next came the Meidiland® collection, which proved to be very successful. These were tough and also adapted to mechanical pruning. There are now 14 different varieties in the range.

Drift® roses are another Meilland breakthrough with continuous flowering and disease-resistant leaves. Starting with Peach Drift® and Pink Drift® there are now a dozen in the range and six colours are available in Australia. A cross between a ground cover rose and a miniature rose bush, they are compact, colourful, heat and cold tolerant and have a high resistance to frost and disease. They don’t require any spraying and are ideal in beds, borders or containers.


Meilland’s trend-setters

La Sevillana (1978) Orange-red clusters of non-fading, semi-double flowers with petals dropping cleanly. The resilience, disease resistance and repeat flowering made this rose a worldwide hit. Grows 1.2m x 1.5m. 

Bonica (1982) Produces clusters of pale pink blooms with very disease-resistant foliage. A hardy and vigorous bush or standard rose. It sets hips in the autumn.

White Meidiland® (1987) Pure white double blooms in clusters. A superb landscape rose with healthy foliage and prolific flowering. Ht. 70cm. 

Red Meidiland® (1989) Vibrant red, free-flowering vigorous ground cover shrub for mass planting on slopes and in beds. Approx. 1m x 1m spreading habit. 

Carefree Wonder (1990) This blooming beauty has semi-double pink roses with a white reverse in small clusters on a hardy bush to 1.2m. Both cold and heat tolerant and very disease resistant.

Simply Magic (1992) Pink semi-double Floribunda known for profuse flowering and healthy foliage. Perfect for smaller beds, borders or patios. Ht. 90cm. (Aussie Magic is a pale pink sport of this rose, discovered in Australia.) 

Simply Magic

City of Adelaide™ (1992) Attractive coral pink double blooms on a well-shaped bush. The long-lasting flowers have a light fragrance and are ideal for cutting. Approx. 1.2m. 

Coral Meidiland (1993) A ground cover shrub with superb landscaping qualities. Flowers continuously throughout the warmer weather. Ht. 90cm. 

Peach Drift® (2006) is one of the most floriferous dwarf shrub roses. Small double peach blooms cover the plant from spring to late autumn. Suits informal mixed beds, borders or containers. Hardy and disease resistant, 50cm x 70cm.

Pink Drift® (2008) Low-mounding ground cover featuring masses of deep pink flowers throughout the season, 50cm x 90cm. 

Knock Out® roses became a global sensation.

Amateur rose breeder William J. Radler in the USA hit the jackpot with his multi-award-winning breakthrough landscape rose, Knock Out®, bred in 1989 and introduced in 2000. Record-breaking sales have earned it the reputation as the world’s number one Rose Brand.

This outstanding performer is extremely hardy and drought tolerant with abundant and continuous flowering, producing cherry-red blooms and disease-resistant foliage. It does not need dead-heading as other roses do, petals drop cleanly. Height 1m. 

Now there’s a complete range of Knock Out® varieties (a total of 11 in all) including the recently released fragrant Sunny Knock Out®. In the USA, the 11th variety is another innovation, named Petite Knock Out, the first miniature in the series. 

Coral Meidiland

The Flower Carpet family 

Werner Noack, from Noack Roses in Germany, bred his first Flower Carpet® Rose in 1988. He was one of the first to market his new varieties as “ground cover roses”. His first creation Flower Carpet Pink was introduced in Australia in 1991. It featured small deep-pink double blooms, produced in clusters, throughout the season, with arching, bushy and spreading growth (60cm tall x 1-2m wide) with glossy, disease-resistant foliage. In the past 30 years, Flower Carpet Pink has sold about 100 million plants worldwide. The original bright pink and the white are still very popular today.

These roses captured the imagination of all gardeners but particularly non-gardeners. No dead-heading and no routine spraying is required, simply an annual prune, a thick layer of mulch to smother weeds and regular water in the first year until established.

The Flower Carpet® group (also referred to as The Carpet Rose®) undergo several years of field trials and only after rigorous and lengthy assessment are the best varieties released. There is no better proof of performance than multi-year trials held around the world. To date, the Flower Carpet collection has received 11 gold medals and 14 other international awards. Noack’s Agent in Australia, Tesselaar, also carry out their own trials to ensure that new varieties will be outstanding performers in our region as well.

Flower Carpet Rose

Flower Carpet® now has 12 varieties, including Flower Carpet Apple Blossom, White, Scarlet and Gold, which have double blooms, while Flower Carpet Coral and Red have single blooms. The latest introductions are Flower Carpet Amber and Flower Carpet Mini Cherry and a new fragrant mauve.

Last year, Tesselaar launched the Showpiece collection of garden roses bred by Noack. Named Blush, Berry, Champagne and Lipstick, they grow to almost 1m and make a tidy bush tolerant to fungal diseases. 

Noack has been working on this range for the past 25 years, aiming to develop a group of fragrant garden roses that had prolific flowering and similar disease-tolerance to Flower Carpet, that could be propagated on their own roots. 

Flower Carpet Mini Cherry

New age performers 

Flower Carpet® Mini Cherry (2021) Masses of cherry-sized, cherry red blooms (17-25 petals) on a compact bush 50cm x 60cm, perfect for edging and mass planting. 

Bees’ Paradise Pink (2021) Low-growing shrub with clusters of pink flowers and rich yellow stamens. Easy to grow and disease resistant to mildew and blackspot. It has quick repeat flowering and dead-heading is not essential. Grows to 60cm. Best Rose in Trial in France and Best Patio Rose in Trials in the Czech Republic and Spain. Knight’s Roses have freshly potted two-year-old plants and potted roses grown from cuttings. 

Sunny Knock Out® (2020) A profusion of single, bright yellow blooms, ageing to pale lemon with a citrus fragrance. Hardy, self-cleaning, resistant to blackspot and drought tolerant. Bush 1.2m x 1m. Available from Wagner’s Rose Nursery and Treloar Roses.

Eye Shadow (2017) Low maintenance pink groundcover rose with scent, continuous blooming and tough, healthy foliage. Flowers are distinguished by a spot or “eye” at the base of each petal. Awarded two trophies and one gold in Adelaide in 2016. 


This article first appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine.


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