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Marvelous Modern Shrub Roses

Marvelous Modern Shrub Roses

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Roses
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Roses

It’s never been easier to enjoy a beautiful rose garden. Modern shrub roses deliver hardiness, performance, disease resistance and even fragrance! Suntory Flowers offers two lines of disease-resistant shrub roses – the full sized, beautiful Brindabella series and more compact Sunrosa series.

Brindabella Roses

Brindabella roses bring back what we’ve been missing – fully-petaled flower forms and perfume. While the darker colors have the classic rose scent, lighter colors are more citrusy. The line is bred by rose enthusiasts John and Sylvia Gray, who operate Brindabella Country Gardens, a retail rose specialist in Queensland, Australia. After a career in plant pathology, John ventured into rose production and then rose breeding with a focus on disease resistance, specifically powdery mildew and black spot.

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Brindabella Dawn

“Rose black spot is devastating, and defoliation is very severe. I knew that if we were to succeed, the answer lay in breeding,” John says. “By luck, I came across a white rose sent out from the United Kingdom with very strong perfumed double flowers, planted it and watched it thrive and remain completely clean of black spot for four years, whilst other roses in the garden succumbed badly. Sylvia and I agreed we would use it as a parent to breed our own black spot resistant roses that looked like a rose and smelled like a rose should.”

This early breeding became the foundation for the Brindabella series – modern shrub roses that offer form, function and fragrance.

How would roses bred in Australia perform in North America? Suntory Flowers and Sun-Fire Nurseries in Florida have been evaluating Brindabella roses under very hot conditions, as well as submitting the varieties for independent national trialing for winter hardiness.

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Brindabella Purple Prince (photo above) has been the superstar, receiving awards from two major rose trialing organizations. First was a Local Artist Award from American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.) for performance in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. Purple Prince also captured a Regional Choice Award from American Garden Rose Selections (AGRS), with winning scores in the Northeast, South Central and Southwest regions. This means the variety is hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 and 5.

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Low-maintenance and vigorous, Brindabella Roses grow to only 4 feet tall and wide in two years’ time. They are available in seven scentsational colors! New for 2022 is Crimson Knight (photo above), which features deep red blooms with nearly black outer petals. Temperature affects how deep or bright the colors will be.

For more information, visit our Brindabella Roses page at

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Sunrosa Roses

Love roses but looking for more controlled growth? Sunrosa roses offer amazing disease resistance and continuous color. Bushy plants reach a height of 15-36 inches and spread of 12-18 inches. Perfect for smaller spaces, border plantings and patio pots, Sunrosa Roses will thrill home gardeners and landscapers with their long flowering period and reduced need for trimming and maintenance.

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Most of the Sunrosa varieties were bred by world-renowned rose breeder Dr. Keith Zary of Jackson & Perkins fame. The newest color, Yellow Delight (photo above), is a sport of Orange Delight and an improvement to Yellow. The most scented of the group is Fragrant Pink (photo below). Sunrosa Red is the standout receiving the most awards in landscape trials all over the country – Colorado, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Georgia.

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We’ve also learned Sunrosa roses can be trained and shaped into great topiaries or standards. Imagine having one of these sweet little roses in a patio container surrounded by other seasonal plants at the base. That’s the next product we’d like to develop for retailers.

For more information, visit our Sunrosa Roses page at

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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