We've lived in this house for a while and over the years our trees have grown and shade the rose beds too much. Are there any shade-tolerant rose varieties you could recommend for Grand Junction?

— Janet

I know exactly what you're talking about. My wife, Patti, and I have been dealing with the same issue for years in our yard.

And it's a difficult question. Most roses don't do that well in the shade. The standard recommendation is to give them five to six hours of full sun a day.

The one bit of advantage we have here over other parts of the country is that our sunlight is so bright and intense because of the clear air, low humidity and altitude that we can grow roses with a bit more shade than is commonly recommended.

But not all shade is created equal. There's shade and then there's SHADE! A rose might do just fine with bright, dappled shade but fail miserably in full, dark, unrelieved shade.

The important thing is to give the plant as much light as possible by planting it out on the brighter edge of a shady patch or even doing some judicious pruning of your trees to allow a bit more sunlight to penetrate below.

You're not cutting branches out to create holes in the canopy. You want to "limb the tree up" by removing lower branches. When the canopy is higher there's more reflected light under the tree even though it's still full shade.

Doing this will usually allow you to keep most of existing roses in place (as well as a lot of other flowering shrubs that prefer full sun) even though they're in pretty shady spots.

Having said all that, there are a few rose varieties that do OK in partial shade.

Keep in mind, you will not find a rose variety that thrives in full, dark shade. For areas such as that you're best to abandon roses and switch to more shade tolerant plants.

In general, roses that flower the most, such as floribundas, shrub roses and miniature roses will do better in the shade. Some antique roses also are usually fairly shade tolerant, as roses go.

Single or semi-double roses (those with the fewest petals) generally bloom better than those with more than 12 petals.

Although the roses in our yard tend to bloom less in the shade than they do in full sun, they still give us a lovely show on and off throughout the growing season. One advantage of having them in a shadier spot is that the flowers tend to last longer than those on plants in the full, hot sun.

One little suggestion I have is to choose varieties that are paler in color. Those pale, pastel colors tend to have richer, deeper color in the shade where the sun can't bleach them out, and the lighter blooms pop out brighter than darker blooms in the shade.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506, or email info@bookcliffgardens.com.

This "crazy looking yucca" can be found at the intersection of West Ridges Boulevard and Hearthstone Court near Redlands Mesa Golf Course. Rob Ramsay took this photo on June 30.

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