galrCommon sense prevents most gardeners from planting hybrid tea roses in large numbers on slopes, banks, and hillsides. For starters, how would one maneuver from bush to bush to pick off all those Japanese beetles? And where would anyone find enough time to prune each bush? Moreover, the cost (both environmental and financial) of chemicals often used to fight black spot and rust on masses of high-maintenance cultivars could well prove prohibitive.

Yet there is a way to use roses to create broad, romantic sweeps of color. Today’s so-called ground-cover roses attract few pests, need little or no pruning, and seldom suffer from black spot or other blights common to the genus Rosa. Produced by hybridizers determined to eliminate the need for chemical pesticides in the garden, ground-cover roses are characterized by low, spreading growth, extreme cold hardiness (USDA zones usually range from 3 or 4 to 9), and repeat (sometimes recurrent, even perpetual) bloom. More rightly, these easy-care beauties should be dubbed procumbent roses, notes English rosarian Peter Beales in his encyclopedic Classic Roses (Henry Holt; $55), now in its second edition. Unlike ivy, vinca, or other true ground covers that hug the earth with countless rootlets, ground-cover roses employ long, flowery canes to create the illusion of a blanket of blossoms.

To create drift without sacrificing tidiness, consider massing roses whose habit is more wide than tall. Choose a single hue or, to lighten the look, interplant