Every year we like to test different roses to see if they’re truly sustainable. Given the fickleness of sustainability from garden to garden, we always hope to capture varieties that will have disease resistance in our garden. This season, along with a few other “new” varieties we added to our sustainable garden, we planted Earth Song and so far we haven’t been disappointed.
A few years ago a friend gave us a small cutting of the plant. Mike wasn’t sure it would survive the first winter but he repotted it in good potting soil, watered and fed it along with the rest of his container roses. We grew it in a pot for a season as we considered whether it would get a spot in our spray-free, sustainable garden where space is limited. But when we saw its immaculate foliage and spectacular blooms this June, we made room for it.
Earth Song, hybridized by Griffith Buck and introduced in 1975, has large, deep pink flowers on exceptionally clean, disease-free foliage. While it was fairly small when planted in the garden, it has tripled its size in one season and blooms repeatedly. The flowers are large – about 4’ to 5” in diameter and a vibrant pink reminiscent of The McCartney Rose. It is modestly fragrant and hardy to Zone 3.
While Buck’s primary hybridizing objective was to develop winter hardy roses through his work at Iowa State University, his program eventually turned to developing varieties that were also disease resistant. Besides Earth Song, he has given us Carefree Beauty and a whole series of “Prairie” roses as well as numerous other hardy and disease resistant roses.
This year we were given a small potted plant of Prairie Star that had seen better days, but Mike has worked his magic again and the bush has recovered its vigor and now producing beautiful, creamy white, old fashioned flowers. It’s still in its container and with some additional TLC, we hope it can join Earth Song in our garden next season.
If you’re looking for some older, fragrant roses that have nice form, consider Griffith Buck roses. These are the roses that have been around for over 30 years – sustainable roses that have survived the test of time.