Why Shrub Roses?
When we think of rose bushes we usually don't picture shrub roses, but instead picture the hybrid teas, the real show stoppers in most rose gardens. A gardener who has not grown roses before and decides to start with a bed of a dozen or more hybrid teas will eventually find out how much work it is to keep them looking beautiful, not to mention keeping them disease and pest free, and even alive in some climates.
Maintenance - Roses can be high maintenance plants. That's usually not a problem for the dedicated gardener who loves nothing more than tending his or her rose garden. For many of us however, we're perfectly satisfied with a rose that is attractive but is in many if not most respects a low maintenance plant. There are roses that are low maintenance, and those are for the most part the shrub roses.
Shrub roses are sometimes called wild roses, even when the plants are purchased in a nursery. You may have a few shrub roses in you garden and soon discover similar plants growing along a roadside or along a beach. If nothing else, that tells you these roses are very hardy and do not require a lot of human intervention to keep blooming year after year.
Pruning - One could even say that shrub roses require no pruning. That's both true and not true depending upon what you want the plant to look like. Shrub roses planted at intervals can provide a hedge or screen. Hedges usually require occasional pruning, if only because the plants don't always grow at the same rate.
An annual pruning is a good idea however to shape the plant a bit, remove any dead or diseased branches, and perhaps open up the interior of the shrub to improve air circulation. When you do prune these plants you don't have to do it quite as carefully and rigorously as you would prune a hybrid tea. You don't necessarily just slash away, but you do have quite a bit of freedom as to what to prune and what not to prune. Speaking of diseased branches, on most varieties you aren't apt to come across too many of those as many of the shrub roses on the market are quite disease resistant.
Mulch? - Another feature of shrub roses is that, except for very cold climates, they seldom require mulch during the winter months. Many rose varieties have to be given a good layer of much to survive winters in the northern states, but shrub roses seldom require mulch. About the only fall maintenance needed is to rake away the leaves, not usually too difficult a task unless too many branches have been allowed to run along the ground, making raking difficult.
And There's More - Easy to prune, hardy, and require little or no mulch. How much more can one ask? How about a rose plant that blooms almost continuously from spring until late fall, and one that yields a large number of rose hips, perfect for jams and jellies (if the chipmunks don't get them first). Shrub roses give you all of that and come in a number of pleasing colors and fragrances to boot.
Some nicer small shrub roses are the Pavement roses, rather compact plants featuring fragrant double blossoms available in several colors. The William Baffin rose is a taller shrub, suitable for a garden arbor. This rose blooms profusely in the spring, and its pink blossoms continue to appear intermittently throughout the remainder of the growing season. Whatever you're looking for in color, size or shape, there is usually more than one variety available to suit your needs. Shrub roses are great for beginning rose gardeners, as the possibility of failure is rarely an issue.