Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 20 years experience in radio, television, print
Valentine's Day is just a few days away, so I suspect your thoughts could be turning to roses. Cut roses are thoughtful and beautiful, but fleeting and expensive. Although there's definitely a place for them, especially when Cupid's arrow strikes, their in-ground counterparts also are thoughtful and beautiful gifts to consider. Order them now, and they'll be delivered at the right planting time.
What's more, the cost of a plant that will last for years, maybe even a lifetime, can be significantly less than a dozen long stems. And if you give someone one of the new roses featured here, you'll also be giving the recipient the added pleasure of being the first on the block to grow them.
Blue for You
New to our shores, this long-anticipated European floribunda varies in color from slate blue to lavender pink, depending on the climate. (It skews blue in cooler temperatures, pink when it's warmer.) Available at Chamblee Rose Nursery, you can expect this disease-resistant variety to bloom from spring through fall and reach about 4 feet tall ($9.95 at chambleeroses.com; 800-256-7673).
Star Roses, the company that brought us the ever-popular Knock-Out, is capturing attention again with its introduction of this unusual new rose that resembles a hydrangea. Densely flowered clusters of small red flowers with white eyes cover 2-foot-tall landscape shrubs early in the season. Repeat blooms, however, aren't reliable, so it's advisable to plant these in mixed beds or borders, where other perennials will take over the show later in the season. Look for them at local retailers in spring.
Look-A-Likes Phloxy Baby
Another new impostor from Star Roses, this upright shrub, which reaches 51/2 feet tall, would work well as a hedge with its medium-green, semi-glossy foliage. It is extremely disease-resistant, and its tiny flowers will attract pollinating bees to the garden. Available at local retailers this spring.
Each cheerful 5-inch, clove-scented flower of this standard tree rose is made up of about 25 petals and set atop long stems that are perfect for cutting. The eye-catching blooms emerge yellow, with orange edging, and mature into an eye-pleasing blend of both colors. The well-branched plant, which reaches 3 feet tall, is dense with semi-glossy, dark green foliage topped with a 3-foot diameter flower ball. Also available as a 24-inch patio tree ($49.95 at jacksonandperkins.com; 800-292-4769).
COLOR YOUR ARDOR
If you're planning to send cut flowers for Valentine's Day, here's a color-significance primer to ensure your gift matches your intention:
Red: True love and romance
White: Purity, innocence, new beginnings
Purple: Passion or love at first sight
Pink: Admiration and appreciation