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Replace Moonstone with PJP? Or ..?

This is my white-pink-purple-lilac bed, recently pruned.

Foreground, two minis, Lavender Crystal and Marriotta. Next, three Our Lady of Guadalupe, a near-perfect rose. Behind them are two Love Songs, big and mostly beautiful. The climber at the back is Lavender Crush. I put the two trellises next to it to show how I might want to train LC this year — although the rose tends to grow vertical, not horizontal. Still, I love LC because the blooms smell like heaven (and yes, I would buy stronger trellises than these feeble ones).

The two large, thorny roses next to the climber are my problematic Moonstones.

I originally had three Moonstone HTs, bought in 2019. Dumped one of them after a year because the bed was too crowded.

My remaining two Moonstones are … well, in the spring and fall they’re magnificent. Large, exquisite, white blushed with pink. Between mid-May and mid-October, however, they are godawful: ravaged by chili thrips, inclined to rust, with small deformed blooms. I’ve thought about sp’ing them each winter, but haven’t had the guts to do so, as they are very large and horribly thorny. Still, I may gird myself for the task, because six months of ugliness outweighs five months of beauty — or does it? Those thorns, though — bleggh.

I’m thinking of two Pope John Paul IIs as replacements for Moonstone. How thorny is that rose? How’s its disease resistance? Can it deal with chili thrips? We are often away for as long as a month in the summer, so it’s hard to maintain a spray routine — even if I wanted to, which I don’t.

Alternatively, should I leave the space empty, let the Love Songs expand back toward the wall and allow Lavender Crush to grow any way it wants?

I really like PJP, and by all reports it does very well in hot and dry climates. On the other hand, am I letting myself in for more disappointment if I plant two HTs where two other HTs have not worked out?

Are there alternatives I haven’t considered (preferably fragrant and thornless)? Whatever it is, it will have to grow pretty tall to be visible behind the Love Songs.

I don’t want to do anything rash. This bed gets a lot of light, and I want it to do well — including in the summer!

Thanks all —

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