New Dawn - the perfect rose?


Is there such a thing as a perfect rose? Perfect blooms, most definitely but what about the plant itself? Over the years I've grown a lot of roses and while there are a handful that I would rate a "10", the majority are finicky (blackspot anyone?)  and require retirement time on your hands to keep them looking good. I gave up on hybrid tea roses long ago. The roses in our garden are now mostly older varieties and they must survive on their own with no chemicals or else they get the shovel prune heave-ho.

Roses have a reputation for being sun-loving but I can attest that you can grow them in quite a bit of shade. Hybrid musk roses as a group do great in our garden with a minimal 4-5 hours of sun. There are other type roses that also perform well. One of the most shade tolerant is "New Dawn". There are two of these roses growing along the fence line that borders the street on the north side of the house. They are heavily shaded by trees at the front of the house. The sun doesn't hit this area until very late in the afternoon when it begins to descend in the west. A few hours of direct sunlight and they bloom prolifically.

"New Dawn" has iron-clad hardiness (to zone 5), beautiful glossy green leaves and exceptional pale pink blossoms. Disease resistance is excellent. "New Dawn" roses can be grown as either a shrub or a climbing rose. We also have one growing on our pergola but it has to compete with other roses and doesn't put on the show like the ones along the fence.

If "New Dawn" has any faults, I would venture to say that it isn't an easy rose to work with because of its extreme thorny nature. Best to just plant it where it can do its thing and steer clear.

This rose is a sport of "Dr. Van Fleet" which looks identical but "New Dawn" has the advantage of repeat blooms, although the showing is not as dramatic as it is now.


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I have been considering where I could fit a New Dawn into my small Georgia garden. I've heard wonderful things about this rose. Your beautiful photos are encouraging me to keep thinking how to fit one in!

  2. Well, you give me hope of having roses again in my heavily shaded yard. Might have to see if I can find one! Carol

  3. My daughter-in-law gave me a cutting of a pale pink climbing rose that she believes is New Dawn. But it doesn't repeat bloom in my garden or hers - so perhaps this is the Van Fleet rose instead? It is hardy and lovely and blooms profusely (in sun) in May.

  4. Oh Phillip, you are the devil. I have already went out and bought a yellow climbing rose this past week after your previous posting. When I return from vacation I am going to be on the look out for Dawn. Wow. How exciting to find a rose that tolerates a little shade.

  5. Agreed Philip, New Dawn is an iron-clad rose performer. At the K-State Univ. gardens, it grows against a North Wall and I doubt it ever gets direct sunlight at all, but it still does well. In my garden it gets direct sun from sunup to sundown and is completely exposed; but yet, again, no disease or dieback. Carol, another great old rose for shade is Zephirine Drouhin, a repeating Bourbon with a heavenly fragrance and good disease resistance.

  6. For some reason, I always have problems with blackspot on Zephirine Drouhin but I know a lot of people have success with it.

    Ginny, I bet it is Dr. Van Fleet. I can't tell a difference in the blooms.

    Lisa, which rose did you buy?

  7. Hello Phillip! Your roses are gorgeous! I love that you throw them out if they need chemicals and New Dawn is a favorite of mine. It seems rather slow to grow though. Did you find it so? Perhaps I need to give it more of something. I have missed seeing your beautiful gardens but I have not been able to blog much these past two years. Scrolling through the pages of your blog is so inspiring!

  8. I like that the thorns remind you that nothing in life is perfect.


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