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Buck Roses in Iowa

Like most Iowans, this hometown hero isn't prissy, gets along with just some common-sense care, and can tough it out during harsh Iowa winters.

By Veronica Lorson Fowler
The Iowa Gardener Carefree Beauty Rose

Buck roses are a wonderful, dependable, beautiful group of roses perfectly suited to Iowa because they were bred in Iowa.

Back in the 1970s, ISU horticulture professor Griffith Buck was trying to breed roses. But Iowa State, understandably focused on things like corn and soybeans, didn't give him much budget. So Dr. Buck had to breed roses that could do with little spraying, watering, or winter protection. As a result, he created a group of low-maintenance roses right at a time when American gardeners were interesting in such things.

'Carefree Beauty' is his crowning achievement. It is a large gorgeous rose with tiny pink flowers that bloom from June until frost. It’s so tough, disease-resistant, and reliable that it’s been crossed with many other roses to develop new types. In fact, it’s so showy your neighbors will all ask what it is. It grows 3 to 5 feet high and wide. It has been used as breeding stock in many low-maintenance roses over the decades. Buck roses usually have fun Iowa-related or prairie-themed names to boot, such as 'Frontier Twirl' or 'Hawkeye Belle.'  ‘Distant Drums’ is one of the most prized Buck roses for its gorgeous, subtle coloration.

Buck roses can be a bit of a trick to find in garden centers. And even if you see one, it may not be marketed as such. 'Carefree Beauty,' for example, is widely available but is seldom advertised as a Buck Rose. So if you'd like more Buck roses in your garden than just 'Carefree Beauty,' you'll likely need to order them on-line. For more extensive information on Buck roses, and for a listing of all the many different kinds, click on the ISU site devoted to them. (Apparently, they now appreciate him considerably!)

Below is a listing of Iowa retailers that carry Buck roses, as reported by our readers. If you find a good retailer not listed here, let us know and we'll update this listing. Their availability, of course, will vary through the season.

Buck Rose Retailers in Iowa

Town and Country Market
308 Main Street
Slater, Iowa 5024
phone 515-228-3131
Comments: Owner Larry Larson year after year has one of the most reliable, extensive sources of Buck roses in the state. Thank you, Larry!
The Garden Center
17379 Hwy G58
Milo, IA 50166
Comments: Located slightly south of West Des Moines. As of early May, they were out of all but 'Carefree Beauty.' They said they can be tough to find Buck roses to carry for their customers, and demand seems to outstrip supply.

Herndon's Des Moines Seed Co.
6015 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA

Pecks Flower and Garden Shop
3990 Blairs Ferry Road
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
(319) 393-5948

HyVee Drugs in Cedar Rapids
The reader didn't specify which one, but a good indicator that sometimes you can find them anywere!

Friends of the Des Moines Botanical Center Sale
Fundraiser sale held each year in May

On-Line Buck Rose Sources

Heirloom Roses
24062 NE Riverside Drive
St. Paul, Oregon 97137

Chamblee's Rose Nursery
10926 U.S. Highway 69 North
Tyler, Texas 75706-5933
Order online by clicking here.

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