If you're looking for an easy-care, long blooming, small garden standout, allow me to introduce you to my friend Betty Boop.
Long the darlings of dedicated gardeners with acres of space and a willingness to cater to their demands, roses have been largely ignored by many small space gardeners. But don't overlook this classic, hardworking shrub. In a small garden where every plant needs to carry its own weight, roses can be an excellent option - just make sure you choose carefully. For a rose to make it onto my favorites list, it must meet certain criteria:
- Long blooming
- Easy care
- Disease resistant
Hardy to USDA Zone 6, Betty Boop hits all three. Here in California, this superior rose is covered in blooms by April, and is still going strong in the fall. Just like the luscious cartoon vamp she's named for, Betty comes on strong and newly opened buds are a vibrant yellow tinged with rose and orange. Unlike her forever-young, cartoon counterpart, however, she mellows with age, with flowers gradually fading to ivory edged in soft pink. Deadheading is not required as petals fall cleanly, and a haircut in late summer is generally all that's needed to keep shape and size under control.
I've been adding Betty to gardens for a while now, and have been growing her in my own backyard for eight years or so. Because this rose adds so much color and interest all on its own, it doesn't require a complex design strategy. Massing two or three in the same bed is all that's needed to carry the space. For years, mine produced a nice amount of bloom despite getting only four hours of full sun a day. Thanks to a recently removed tree, they now get six hours plus, and have been blooming nonstop for four months now, with no supplemental feeding or special care other than an application of compost and fresh mulch every spring.
With her unfussy good looks, is it any wonder Betty Boop remains everyone's favorite It Girl?