For the Love of Roses

My love affair with roses began at Arley Hall, so I guess you could say that Lady Elizabeth Ashbrook was my matchmaker. She curated such a wonderful collection of roses, most of them old-fashioned varieties. She was truly an inspiration to me.

One of the many things I find fascinating about roses is their heritage—it’s so interesting to me to look at the evolution of this most-famous flower, particularly how American roses have evolved. The first American class of roses was the Noisettes, bred in Charleston during the early 19th century. And it just so happens that my passion for roses also introduced me to one of my dearest friends, rosarian Ruth Knopf. Also of Charleston, she and I share a particular affinity for the Noisettes.

Now, fast forward to 2000 when another breakthrough rose was about to be introduced to America—The Knock Out® Rose. It was created by William Radler to be disease resistant, cold hardy, heat tolerant and incredibly floriferous. And indeed it is—along with the six other varieties that have since been introduced— as it produces a bevy of blooms every five weeks or so from spring until the first frost.

So what do Noisette roses and The Knock Out® Family of Roses have in common? Well for one thing, they’re all going to be showcased in the new rose garden we’ve installed at the Garden Home Retreat. The Knock Out® Family of Roses will be planted in multiples, with like colors and varieties being grouped together for what I think will be an absolute visual treat.

I’m looking forward to when we officially open the rose garden on Saturday May 14 at the Tale of Two Farms Herb & Roses Festival. Peggy Cornett, curator of plants at Monticello, will be on hand for the festivities. She’ll also be giving a free lecture at the Clinton School of Public Service at noon on May 13, and the topic is one I’m especially looking forward to—“Historic Roses at Monticello.” I hope to see you there!

Plot plan of the rose garden.

The entry gates were constructed by Stuart Schild. He designed them around a gate bonnet I found in a junk shop ages ago.


The pavillions are inspired by outbuildings I saw at the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston.

The Double Knock Out Rose looks lovely paired with The Pink Double Knock Out Rose.


The Pink Double Knock Out Rose planted en masse.


The Double Knock Out Rose



24 Responses to For the Love of Roses

  1. June Nicholls says:

    I am in the UK and am very interested in these Knock Out roses. Do you know what they might be called over here please.


  2. BarbaraA. Justin says:

    I am currently the Secretary to the Greater Cincinnati Rose Association. I have been a big fan of yours from the very beginning!! I currently have 100 Rose bushes – – they mean so much to me. I enjoy reading everything that you say, print etc. on the subject of roses.

  3. nanne says:

    hi allen!

    i am a native alabamian who is now living in the midwest, a 3rd generation graduate of the university of alabama and an avid gardener who loves your pbs show and your blog.

    i’m writing, as a fellow southerner, to beg for your assistance in the relief effort for the victims of lasts week’s horrific tornado that ravaged north alabama and parts of mississippi, georgia and tennessee.

    tuscaloosa is in ruins. parts of the city where there were homes & businesses have nothing left but rubble & bodies. there are small communities in the outlying areas of tuscaloosa that are just not there anymore.

    these people need everything–food, paper products, baby supplies, money, prayers & good thoughts.

    i don’t know if you ever do this kind of thing, but i am sending you a link to a university of alabama website that is acting as a link hub for organzations that are attempting to help the tornado victims. it is reputable, sponsered by the UofA and pretty comprehensive.

    i am being a big pill and sending this link to all of my favorite bloggers in hopes that they will help us.

    my self and the people of alabama would so appreciate your help in bringing attention and aid to these people who have lost everything.

    thank you allen!
    nanne cutler

    the link:

  4. Elise Beron says:

    DEAR ALLEN, I hope you will find your most beautiful WHITE
    rose and named it Princess Catherine. All the world has just witnessed perfection in a wedding, and it would be fitting to name a beautiful, flawless rose in honor of Catherine’s.

  5. Jo Ann T. Fountain City, WI says:

    Hi Allen! I am looking forward to seeing more photos and hearing more about the new rose garden at Moss Mountain! Because of you, I started to grow roses in my Wisconsin garden about 8 years ago. I even planted a New Dawn in my zone 4 garden, I mulch it heavily each fall and it blooms nicely each summer!! It grows on a trellis with Jackmanii clematis. It is picture perfect each June! I added a Double Knock Out 2 years ago and it is absolutely awesome! I look forward to a tour of your Moss Mountain gardens some summer! Thanks for sharing! Jo Ann

  6. Linda Pastorino says:

    I wondered when you would add a rose garden to your new house and it will be a great addition. I would love to see it some time on TV. I have had a large some what formal rose garden within my garden for 9 years. (originally about 350 plants of all varieties including climging roses) In my opinion, roses are not easy to care for and in certain years, roses that i have had for a long time perish due to climate changes. It is dissapointing to loose old bushes. I know the new varities are care free and and less work. The knock outs are hardy however I think they are a bit commercial looking to my eye. Maybe in the way you are using them in drifts of bold color they will make a wonderful show. IT’s often harder to mix roses of different types which adds to the complexity of the care and problems, especially the japanese beetles. You are lucky if you don’t have these. Maybe by seeing your completed garden, it will win me over to try some myself.
    I have not found your new show yet in my area and would love to watch it. I really have enjoyed your shows.

    • Lisa L. says:

      I don’t know what zone you are in, but if you can grow Four O’Clocks in your area, give it a try. Japanese Beetles have an affinity for this plant and the bonus is that it is toxic to them. Natures own pesticide!

  7. Kathleen S. Eckler says:

    I, too, have grown very fond of roses in the past couple of years. I think it is because the children have grown up and I have more time to appreciate such beaurty. The only problem I have as of lately, is our winters are getting tougher on my roses. There is so much die-back expecially in the older ones. I inherited some unknown roses from my mother-in-law when she passed on, and I have no idea what they are.

  8. Lisa L. says:

    My love of photography draws me easily to flowers, especially roses! I only have one bush, a hybrid tea called ‘Double-Delight’ and it has been a great bush. No serious disease as of yet. It blooms all summer long with an intense fragrance; more wonderful after a rain shower.

  9. The rose garden is going to be amazing. Roses are one of those plants that I routinely talk myself out of and then immediately fall back in lust with after seeing beautiful pictures of them. It can be challenging to find the right rose for a zone 5a garden.

    • What a day!
      Just in from tending the animals and we have even more lambs than I had anticipated on our flock producing this season! And this is the week for the baby turkeys to hatch….and boy they are hatching like crazy!
      Thank the Good Lord above for some sunny skies. We were actually able to bet some real work done advancing the rose garden over the last couple of days. I cannot wait to share some pictures, but of course, like all of us, it will take some time for it to come into its own.
      We made the most delicious bread pudding today with a friend of mine for our new PBS food show Garden to Table….yummy for sure! And we shot a segment on gardening with bales of wheat straw which was a lot of fun showing how to grow a Bonnie tomato in a bale of straw……not hay…but straw! A big difference!

      Also, I just got of the phone with my Great Uncle Joe wishing him a happy birthday!He is 83 today! Yippppeeee ! What a great guy!

      Okay, Im signing off…I’m sure I’ll dream all night about weeding since all of the recent ‘liquid sunshine’ has produced some monster weeds and lots of them!

  10. Susan Ann Zoeller says:

    Hi Allen, I like your entry gate with the big “S” in it. Double knock out roses, my favorite. Love your blog!!!

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