Before there were Knock Out roses, there was Carefree Beauty, an aptly named garden rose as there ever was. Truly beautiful clear pink fully double roses are freely produced in loose clusters.
Carefree Beauty is a disease resistant shrub of the highest rose gardening caliber.
Carefree Beauty is designated a shrub rose. Shrub roses are characterized as being easier to grow due to being more disease resistant and having less stringent cultural requirements than other varieties of garden roses.
Carefree Beauty is a strong grower once established. What is especially appealing is the high quality of the color and form of the flowers*. So many roses bred for toughness lose when it comes to the beauty of the flowers they produce.
Legendary rose breeder Griffith Buck introduced Carefree Beauty in 1977, twenty-three years before the original Knock Out rose came to market.
Griffith Buck was a professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, and like his contemporary Robert Basye, Dr. Buck focused on breeding disease-resistant winter hardy garden roses.
As Carefree Beauty’s roses mature, they take on a slightly shaggy quality, charming and unassuming.
Because the flowers bred by Griffith Buck tended to be unkempt as they aged, they were not considered great show roses. This may have led to a lack of support by the American Rose Society (ARS) in favor of more photogenic flowers (at the expense of disease resistance). In today’s more environmentally aware world, Dr. Buck’s roses deserve a renaissance.
The image below shows the flowers in three stages of maturation. The buds and newly opened flowers are immaculate.
It blooms from spring to frost. As it matures, the plant remains bushy, making it an excellent specimen in the garden. Size is often listed as three to five feet, but I have seen older specimens taller than me (I am six feet tall).
Flowers are large and robust, 4″-5″ wide, fragrant, and loosely clustered. Foliage is healthy and dark green. As one might expect from a Griffith Buck rose, it is winter hardy without protection at least as far north as Iowa.