Q&A with Nita-Jo Rountree, Author of “Growing Roses in the Pacific Northwest”

By Shelley Pierce | January 22, 2017
Image by Sasquatch Books
by Shelley Pierce
January 22, 2017

NITA-JO ROUNTREE is a Seattle-based garden designer and educator. She has developed numerous programs and lectures, is a past president of the Northwest Horticultural Society, and she is currently on the board of directors of the Bellevue Botanical Garden where she serves as lecture chair. Her latest release, “Growing Roses in the Pacific Northwest” is an organic-focused guide that will give you the know-how to care for a large selection of gorgeous varieties that are practically guaranteed to thrive in the region and beyond.  Read on for more information about this book and enter to win one of two copies from Sasquatch Books!

1. What is the allure of roses for you?  What are some of your favorite rose varieties and why are they your favorites? 

Actually, I think we’re all born loving the beauty and fragrance of roses; it’s in our genes!  My favorite roses are, of course, the ones that are in bloom on any particular day.  At the moment, a beautiful, wonderfully fragrant 2016 David Austin introduction, ‘Olivia Rose Austin’, named after his granddaughter, is one of my many favorites.  It’s almost constantly in bloom with pure pink doubled flowers.  There are also two Kordes roses, ‘Poseidon’ that has unique frilly lavender blooms that have a lovely fragrance, and the exceptionally fragrant ‘First Crush Parfuma’ with buds that are almost plum color opening to creamy pink.  And then there’s also”¦

2. What are some of the biggest challenges of growing roses in the Pacific Northwest and how does your book help with those challenges? 

The cloudy drizzly climate, and people who don’t understand their growth requirements.  There is a Rose Care chapter that lists easy tips for successful rose growing.  Also, there is a great “Troubleshooting” chapter with photos so that in the event that their rose falls prey to some malady, they’ll know just what to do.

3. Do you have to hail from the Pacific Northwest to gain a full appreciation of this book? 

Absolutely not!  If you can grow roses in the Pacific Northwest, you can grow them just about anywhere!  I’ve included USDA hardiness zones for every rose listed in the book so that readers can easily identify whether or not that variety will survive in their home climate.

4. Your book offers an overwhelming number of choices, 90 rose varieties, that are suitable for growing in the Pacific Northwest.  How do the indecisive among us whittle down the choices – what are the most important things they should take into consideration? 

First, location, location, location.  Roses need full sun and adequate water.  Following the tips in the Rose Care chapter will almost guarantee success.  Then the fun starts with choices of flower form, size of bush, color, and fragrance.

5. In your book you discuss the undeserved stigma that roses have (i.e. pest and disease prone, hard to grow, etc.)  How does your book help turn that stigma around? 

When hybridizers started breeding roses many years ago, their primary objectives were color, flower form, and fragrance.  Disease resistance was of little concern.   Because of disease problems that caused ugly foliage, many people gave up on growing roses.  That forced growers to focus on disease resistance in addition to beautiful flowers so that many roses coming to market now are easy care.

6. What advice do you have for rose growers in the Pacific Northwest and those in general? 

Buy this book!  By choosing one of the 90 varieties that are listed in the book and following simple care tips, they’ll have beautiful flowers spring, summer, and fall.  It’s exciting to grow roses again!

WIN ONE OF TWO COPIES OF “Growing Roses in the Pacific Northwest”!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, January 29, 2017 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

What is the allure of roses for you?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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