A tough rose

Great for xeriscapes, this rose can spice up your garden
Marcia Tatroe

For two weeks in mid- to late spring, Austrian Copper rose (Rosa foetida 'Bicolor') explodes into a blaze of 2- to 3-inch-wide coppery red flowers. Occasionally a second flush of flowers appears in late summer on this 4- to 6-foot-tall shrub. The flowers have a strong, spicy smell.

Austrian Copper is one tough customer: It loves full sun and heat but is extremely unthirsty, making it the perfect rose for Xeriscapes and outlying areas of the garden. In fact, it needs no supplemental irrigation, except in arid locations, where twice-monthly soakings are sufficient.

Hardy in all Sunset Southwest climate zones (1, 2, 10-13), Austrian Copper is subject to minimal dieback in winter. At bud break in spring, prune out any dead canes. Too much water or crowded conditions may cause the leaves to develop the disease black spot, then drop in midsummer. All you can do is rake up and dispose of the fallen leaves; new ones usually sprout in autumn, then drop again when a hard freeze hits. Container-grown plants are available from High Country Roses ( www.highcountryroses.com or 800/ 552-2082), based in Jensen, UT.