Top Climbing Rose Suggestions

Cecile Brunner rose. Image: Malcolm Manners.

Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’. Image: Malcolm Manners.

My post last week on our two hardy if unimaginative climbing rose choices, ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Iceberg’, prompted several reader suggestions for other climbing roses. Some backed up both ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Iceberg’ for their reliability. But our readers had great ideas for other vigorous climbing roses:

Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’
The top suggestion was Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’. Reader Linda T. says, “The flower is tiny, like a mini rose, and soft pink fading to dusty pink. Ah. But the scent? Peppery-spice rose. Quite unique (my opinion). It flowers in giant clumps. Best feature? It makes divine rose hips for tea. It grows quickly and in my yard, tolerates some shade without loss of either bloom or scent.” Commentor P seconded Cécile Brünner, adding that they are, “nice 10ft tall screens between our yard and the neighbors, are evergreen, have handled numerous fierce windstorms without a hitch, and are currently blooming sweet little pink flowers everywhere.” Rachel adds, “It has the most beautiful little pink flowers (at least they’re little here in Phoenix) and when I open the back door I can smell them from across the yard.”

Rosa ‘Altissimo’ and ‘Mermaid’

Rosa Altissimo. Image: Wikimedia.

Rosa ‘Altissimo’. Image: Wikimedia.


Rosa ‘Mermaid’. Image: Wikimedia.

Ivette S. says, “I have a thing for single roses, so my favorite climbers are Rosa ‘Altissimo’, a gorgeous true red with beautiful yellow stamens in the open center, and Rosa ‘The Mermaid’ – a huge rambling climber that will grow anywhere. Both have their major bloom in the spring, and then a sporadic showing through the year. Such gorgeous plants, with lovely leaves too.”

New Dawn

New Dawn climbing rose. Image: Wikimedia.

Rosa ‘New Dawn’. Image: Wikimedia.

Amanda asked for a suggestion for a rose that will tolerate the wet climate of the Pacific Northwest. Skye responded with Rosa ‘New Dawn’, “My parents live on Galveston Bay and they have a New Dawn climbing rose that is gorgeous and vigorous, it takes wet conditions, hurricane winds, salt spray, humidity and heat and still looks gorgeous.”

Responding to a request for a very long climbing rose, reader Lori B. suggests Rosa ‘Felicite et Perpetue’ but notes that they are hard to find in the U.S. If any reader knows a good source for ‘Felicite et Perpetue’ in the U.S., please leave a comment. And, lastly, in my post last week I forgot to mention that ‘Don Juan’ produces moderate sized hips while ‘Iceberg’ makes tiny ones.

Two Easy to Grow Climbing Roses

rosesHow dare I opine on my two favorite roses? After all, the rose “community” has a level of intellectual fetishism on par with other obsessions like baseball statistics and jam band tape archiving. I’m too much of a generalist to be trusted in the rose world. But I can’t resist.

But let me first, commit rose apostasy. I hate bush roses. Rose leaves, in my opinion, are ugly. When a rose bush is not in bloom I think that the leaves and stems don’t hold much visual interest. There are many other flowering shrubs that are visually interesting year round. But I make an exception for climbing roses. And I like the smell and symbolism of the rose.

Several years ago, when it came to planting two roses to cover the entrance arbor to our house I chose two common varieties that I thought could tolerate our horrible soil and dry conditions:

donjuanDon Juan
This stunning, deep red climbing rose was developed by Michele Malandrone and first sold in 1958. It has an intense, complex scent. I chose it because I heard that it was drought tolerant. It’s also easy to find.

icebergIceberg Climbing Rose
I refer to this rose as the “gas station rose” for its ubiquity. Frankly, it’s an unimaginative choice but the thing is as tough as nails. It laughs at bad soil and low water. The only downside is that, like most climbing roses, it has absolutely no scent at all.

Do you have a favorite climbing rose? Leave a comment!

O79 Growing and Breeding Tomatoes with Fred Hempel


Want to know how to grow tomatoes? What are the best varieties to plant? Want to learn how to breed your own? Our guest this week is farmer and tomato breeder Fred Hempel. Fred farms and breeds gourmet vegetables in Northern California. His focus is on tomatoes, peppers, squash, herbs and edible flowers. In the podcast we ask if there is such a thing as a heirloom tomato? What does a tomato breeder look for in a tomato? Why do supermarket tomatoes taste so crappy? And what happens when you turn a tomato breeding project over to an eight year old. We also talk about how to water tomatoes and prepare soil. During the podcast Fred mentions:

Dumont #4 tweezers

And two tomatoes bred by Fred that you can get seeds for:

Blush Tomato

Orange Jazz tomato

I’ve had the pleasure of tasting these tomatoes at a lecture Fred does at the Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa and they are really amazing.

Fred’s website are: Artisan Seeds and Artisan Seeds in Facebook and Baia Nicchia Farm.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Organize Those Drip Irrigation Parts!

IMG_0772Behold: an ordered toolbox full of irrigation parts. Now this could be one of those self-aggrandizing homesteady posts were it not for the fact that it took me fifteen years to organize my drip irrigation parts. I spent those previous years fishing for parts in a partially collapsed cardboard box. Take my advice: if you own a house, are an avid gardener and use some kind of timed irrigation, thou shalt organize all those parts.

Maintaining an irrigation system is, unfortunately, not a build it and leave it proposition. Inevitably, a shovel slices through a line or a surprise freeze bursts a pipe. More importantly, a garden changes over time. For instance, a drip line under a tree needs to be expanded as the tree grows or maybe that group of natives you planted has matured and no longer needs irrigation.

“All is change” as Heraclitus once said. And I’m sure that because of his philosophy of impermanence, Heraclitus carefully separated and organized his drip irrigation parts.

078 Mark Lakeman on City Repair


Is your neighborhood not all it could be? Do people drive too fast? Does it feel lonely and anonymous? Is there no safe place for your kids to play? Mark Lakeman has some ideas for how all of us can transform the communities we live in. Hint: it starts with a potluck! Mark is the co-founder of the non-profit placemaking organization The City Repair Project, and principal of the community architecture and planning firm Communitecture. He is also an urban place-maker, permaculture designer and community design facilitator.

And if you’re on the West Coast of the US, you have a chance to participate in a series of workshops this month. For more information visit To find out about events in Los Angeles visit

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.