If you want to grow roses and practice permaculture the best choice for you is the Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa). This beautiful 3-6’ plant has attractive, bright green, crinkly foliage and produces copious 3-4” blossoms spring through fall. There are many cultivars. The flowers can be white, ivory, pink or purple. In late fall and winter this gem displays large, 1-inch, orange-red fruit.
Permaculture is a design philosophy and practical approach to sustainable land use. It attempts to integrate perennial and annual plants, animals, human needs, water use, microclimate, and soil management into a highly productive, self-sustaining ecosystem. When it comes to plants permaculturists love those species that perform well, produce a lot and ask little.
When you look at the permaculture principal called “Stacking Functions” (choosing plants with multiple uses) Rosa rugosa really produces. Like many other roses it has a lovely fragrance, provides nectar for bees and hummingbirds, and its petals can be used in pot-pourri.
A Rugosa Rose forms a dense thicket which provides shelter for birds and small animals. A mass of Rugosa Roses can also be used to screen out unsightly objects and can help control soil erosion. I think it is the fruit (rose hips) that really make this shrub a prize. Birds and other critters love to eat rose hips which are packed with vitamin C. People can enjoy rose hips too. They can be eaten dried or fresh, although I wouldn’t use any that have been sprayed with pesticides. Rose hips are also used in jams, jellies, herbal teas and cordials.
The Rugosa Rose also shines when it comes to the “Plan for Personal Energy Efficiency” permaculture principal because it is tough, disease resistant, water wise, easy to maintain and easy to cultivate.
I’m a fan of this plant and I hope that you will consider it as an addition to your landscape.