New Dawn, a climbing rose with blush pink flowers, ranks among the greatest garden roses. Considered a modern repeat-flowered climbing rose even though it was discovered way back in 1930, New Dawn rose will be sold as long as there are gardens to put it in.
New Dawn is a rarity in rose gardening: a truly beautiful garden plant.
New Dawn rose is a sport of Dr. W. Van Fleet. The flowers are loosely double. Truthfully, when New Dawn’s roses are considered individually they are not so special. The roses start with promise, light pink and delicate in loose clusters. Flowers mature quickly to a rather uninspiring blowsy pink-tinged white. So why is New Dawn still with us almost a century after it debuted?
A thousand roses since 1930 could legitimately claim better form, substance, and fragrance than New Dawn rose. Yet it deservedly prevails. Why?
Perhaps this is the lesson and irony of New Dawn.
In a world where roses are fairly accused of bearing beautiful flowers but making ugly garden plants, New Dawn is a beautiful, healthy, and graceful plant. Foliage is generally dark and lovely, untroubled by the usual rose problems (blackspot, mildew, rust, golden retrievers). I have never sprayed a New Dawn rose in the landscape. Individual flowers may not win a rose show, but when those pale pink roses open by the hundreds in mid-spring, the lesson is complete.
New Dawn Rose in the Garden
Grows 10′-20′ in my experience, and it takes a season or two for this rose to really get going. This is fairly typical with modern climbing roses. Thorns are substantial on New Dawn…she is well-armed. Forego pruning early on in a climbing rose’s life in your garden…at least a season or two. Once established, New Dawn is a very strong grower.
Flowering is repeating, but hardly in the vein of many modern garden roses. A first huge burst of flowers comes in mid-spring, with a flush here and there throughout the rest of the season.
New Dawn can handle more shade than most roses, but this is a matter of degree. Roses that can survive with more shade still need sun to grow and flower properly. Roses are heavy feeders, so fertilize at the beginning of the season and perhaps halfway through. Do not fertilize in fall.
A note for gardeners in New Dawn’s northern hardiness limit:
Winter hardiness is zones 5-9. You may need to protect this garden rose during winter in colder climates. More, I am aware of gardeners who have reported less than stellar results with New Dawn. From what can be deduced, New Dawn may survive in colder zones, but needs warmth and more warmth to really shine.
Should you live in zones 5 or 6, it is recommended you seek out microclimates in which to grow New Dawn…for example a south facing fence or wall. This may seem counter to advice that New Dawn is more shade tolerant than other roses, but with garden roses especially, experiences vary widely according to geography.
I am always leery of reading too much into positive or negative reviews regarding a particular rose unless the person making the report is my next door neighbor.