Growing roses can be tricky. During the growing season, they may need constant dead-heading (the removal of the spent rose blossoms) to keep them looking their best, and the dreaded black spot fungal disease can render some roses leafless. Still, roses are beloved for a reason.
Here at the Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Arboretum, one rose is a favorite among our visitors and staff: the hybrid Memorial Day tea rose (Rosa Memorial Day). It’s a full-sun lover, like most roses, and thrives in the Washington, D.C. heat and humidity, without getting those ugly black spots. It starts blooming around Memorial Day, and doesn’t stop blooming until freezing temperatures hit in November or December.
It’s not the long bloom time, nor is it the beauty of the large pink petals that draws people in – it’s the fragrance. Visitors are drawn to the rich fragrance of the blooms. Most new roses have the fragrance bred out of them. But not Memorial Day – it keeps flowering and providing that good, old-fashioned, sweet-smelling fragrance long after the month of May has ended. Many gardeners enjoy them as cut flowers in their home.
Visitors can enjoy the Memorial Day roses in planters along the walkway that leads from the Welcome Center to the tour bus pickup location.