Shrub roses have a romantic, mistymorning quality often accentuated by an old-fashioned, fruity, spicy or clove-like scent. (The lovely blend of tea, myrrh and fruit fragrances in Tea Clipper, an Austin English shrub rose, is irresistible.)
Many are not only beautiful, but tough as well, easily fending off insects, disease and harsh winter weather. Rugosa roses, for example, are resistant to blackspot, powdery mildew and rusts. They are also extremely cold-hardy (to Zone 2) and will survive in poor, dry soils.
Though not all shrub roses are as tough as the rugosas, the Explorer Series, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa, are hardy to –35ºC with only scant snow cover. They require minimal care and are rarely troubled by pests and disease. The Parkland Series is another group of hardy Canadian shrub roses bred for difficult conditions.
Increasingly, too, nurseries are growing own root shrub roses. Unlike budded types, these are better able to rebound when killed to the ground by unusually harsh winters or lack of snow cover.