I get some sideways looks when I describe ‘Ballerina’ as one of the tougher roses around. Maybe it’s the name. And certainly the dainty little white flowers with pink edges don’t shake the perception. When people think of tough roses, they’re more liable to think of something like a rugosa rose. By the very name (meaning “rugged”) and by the dangerous looking spines on each stem, rugosa roses seem built for toughness. And they are tough, don’t get me wrong, but put one side-by-side with ‘Ballerina’ in a somewhat shady location, and see which one comes out on top. ‘Ballerina’ can also stand up to wet conditions, hot conditions, cold winters (say zone 4ish) and it still blooms its head off all season.
‘Ballerina’ is an agreeable shrub to work with. It can grow as large as 6 feet high if you let it, and if you do, it blooms so impressively that it takes on the look of a hydrangea. It’s also quite happy to be trimmed to a smaller size to fit your landscape. Introduced in the 1930’s, it was ahead of its time, fulfilling the role in the garden that the popular landscape roses (like the ubiquitous ‘Bonica’) do today.