I first became aware of such an idea from the "Rose Rustlers", those intrepid seekers of old roses at abandoned homestead, roadways, cemeteries, and abandoned gas stations. Many of these roses were brought by early settlers and were as rugged as the people who brought them. The roses are often disease resistant as well as drought tolerant.
The Master Gardeners of Alameda County have three demonstration gardens: Fremont, Livermore, and Albany. Look for their recommended plant lists.
I was surprised to see roses in the Livermore demonstration garden. I was double-surprised that one of their roses was the 'Mutabilis' rose or 'Butterfly' rose, a China/Bengale hybrid, and is listed as an Earth Kind rose.
Tea roses, like the "Niles Cochet" and its "sport mother", the Maman Cochet, do not require summer water once established.
- “If Dead People Can Grow Roses, Anyone Can” by Mike Shoup, the owner of the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas
- Caring for roses in the drought - UC
- Growing Roses During the Drought - Pacific Rose Society
- Drought Tolerant Roses - Tamara L.C. Johnson
- Tea Roses: Old Roses for Warm Gardens
- The Rose Rustlers, is a brand new book from Texas and has descriptions of many 'found' roses.
- Earth Kind roses has a list of roses
- Suggestions from UC Davis on training your new rose to be more drought tolerant
- What to plant with your roses?