A couple weeks ago I visited my folks at their place on the Jersey shore and was thrilled to see that the rugosa roses (Rosa rugosa) we planted last year are thriving. I can't say I was particularly worried about their survival -- rugosa roses are practically bulletproof, so long as they are planted someplace dry and sunny. Indeed, like the heroine in any bad chick-flick (I'm looking at you, Katherine Heigl), rugosa roses thrive on neglect.
The flower above is from one of the shrubs we planted at my folks' place. I prefer the single-flowering varieties, because I like seeing the very showy stamens. However the multi-flowering varieties are beautiful, too. The samples above and below are both hot pink, though you can find Rosa rugosa in red and white, as well.
Below is the same multi-flowering specimen, rambling along some beach fencing, not far from the spot where I posted some photos of Virginia Creeper a few autumns ago. As you can see, it's spreading prodigiously and since this shot is taken a few hundred yards away from the coastline you can surmise the plant can grow in 100% sand. In fact, it's often employed for dune restoration.
I love the thick, fleshy foliage of Rosa rugosa and the hips are quite showy as well. I've been told they can be used to make a wonderful tea.
Last summer, my parents needed a plant to use in the corner of their property, which is also at the intersection of two streets. I insisted they plant this. It's not native, but it does have a cultural relevance to beach locations since it's ubiquitous in such areas. Rugosa rose was introduced to North America in the mid-18th Century and so far, the plant has not proven to be invasive. I've even seen this species appear on lists of acceptable dune restoration plants in townships that are strict about using native or ecologically-responsible species.
Of course, the plant is thorny as all-get-out. Which makes for a tricky installation, but does keep people from cutting across the corner of our yard. I wrapped the shrubs gently in old beach towels to place them and of course used heavy duty gloves. I am happy to say I walked away unscathed after planting them.
We only put three roses in an area that is probably about 200 square feet. It looked a bit spare last summer and I had to fight off my parents' urges to plant some perennials in the bare spots. But this year, the plant has already begun to sucker, and by next summer the area should be filled out. Just like that heroine in the bad chick flick, patience is a virtue.