Garden Detective

Garden Detective: Can a climbing rose cover an ugly fence?

I have a stretch of chain link fence covered with green all-weather fabric that I am having trouble growing a sun-tolerant climbing flowering vine on. Frankly, the area is very hot during the summer. I have the plants set up on a drip system and they have plenty of water. The tropical vines thrived for a while but died during the winter frost. Now, I’m looking at climbing roses and would appreciate some recommendations.

– Tamra Davis, Sacramento

According to UC master gardener Annie Kempees, now is the time to get out and look at roses to see what you prefer. Since you have expressed an interest in growing roses, climbers specifically, the most reliable way to find plants that grow well in your area is to visit public rose gardens.

Several notable rose gardens are in our area including: McKinley Park Memorial Rose Garden, paralleling H Street between Alhambra Boulevard and 33rd Street in Sacramento; World Peace Rose Garden, in Capitol Park on 15th Street; Pioneer Memorial Rose Garden at Dry Creek Ranch Parkway (5862 Dry Creek Road, Rio Linda); and Sacramento Historic City Cemetery Heritage Rose Garden at 1000 Broadway.

In these gardens, you’ll see how these roses grow, how large they will become and – since most public rose gardens have name tags – you will be able to identify your favorites. Write down the ones you like, then see how well they perform.

Lifetime master rosarian Baldo Villegas, who grows more than 1,000 roses in his Orangevale garden, recommends these climbers for the Sacramento area: Altissimo (medium red flowers), America (orange-pink), Candy Cane (pink blend), Dublin Bay (medium red), Fourth of July (striped red blend), Handel (red blend), Jeanne Lajoie (medium pink), New Dawn (light pink), Pearly Gates (medium pink), Pierre de Ronsard (pink blend), Rainbow’s End (yellow blend) and Soaring Spirits (pink blend). “Blend” refers to petals of more than one color; for example, a pink blend may have a yellow throat. The yellow petals of Rainbow’s End have bright red accents.

A wonderful place to meet rosarians, learn about rose care, types of roses that grow well together and find out everyone’s favorite is to attend the Sacramento Rose Society monthly meeting. They gather on the second Thursday of each month (except July and August) at 7:30 p.m. at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento. The meetings are always open to the public.

The society’s website is Additionally, the website has an extensive list of the roses that grow best in the greater Sacramento region.