Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Beauty of Simplicity

This is about single and semi-double roses, so endearing to me in an unfussy, gentle way. I don't grow very many of them, unfortunately, because summer blooms on repeaters are fried in minutes, while species, a lot of which are single, are mostly too huge to fit into my garden. But here is what I can say about those I do grow, and at the bottom there are some pictures from the Heritage too.

My first single rose was Lyda Rose from Heirloom Roses in Oregon. The blooms remind me of apple blossoms and have a strong fragrance. My rose is completely clean despite being in a lot of shade and facing severe root competition from a big ash tree right next to it. It even manages to repeat and grow a little. I have seen pictures of this rose grown well with adequate sun and it is truly beautiful.

Purple Pavement (Rotes Meer) was my first rugosa acquisition. I grew up with Rosa Canina but couldn't readily locate it in the US, so I went for rugosa hybrids, which are somewhat similar to Canina (but they rebloom). I also thought it would break up my rose border with its distinctive rugose foliage, very prickly canes, bright red big hips, and colorful fall foliage. I never deadhead it and end up with both hips and blooms by the end of summer. It does not bloom very heavily, even in spring, and is more of a curiosity rose overall. In fact, I am regularly asked what kind of plant it is, and one nice person, on being told it is a rose, said I obviously don't know what I am talking about:-).

The blooms have a strong spicy rugosa fragrance, and I have to wait in line with about a dozen bees every single time I want to smell it. It blooms from top to bottom adorning my retaining wall very nicely. My plant is own root, and suckers modestly, as most rugosas will. It does not like my alkaline soil and water and requires annual amendments to keep the leaves from going chlorotic. A fairly high-maintenance plant overall. Some people believe that rugosas should not be pruned, but I prune mine regularly, and it does not seem to mind. I take up to 1/2 off the largest canes in winter. I also have to say that Purple Pavement is an inaccurate translation which has led me to believe it will be a short rose. I was told that a more accurate (but hardly any better) name would be Purple Bedding Rose.

I first saw Secret Garden Musk Climber at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden. 

My first thought was, Oh, what a lovely and romantic name, and my second thought was, I can't believe it is so heavily fragrant. I am tempted to say it is my single most fragrant rose. The fragrance is unusual, with a heavy musky note, almost overpowering, but I love it. It is a healthy vigorous climber with large candelabra of white blooms and mine seems to be particularly loved by leaf-cutter bees:-).

I bought Basye's Purple Rose from Vintage Gardens a year ago. I fell in love with the pictures of rich wine-colored blooms with gorgeous golden stamens. I also wanted to own one of Dr. Basye's roses, and I thought that Basye's Blueberry, another of his roses that I considered, would grow too big for me.  A year later, I am still very pleased with the bloom color and fragrance (look at the velvety sheen on the petals).

I am also impressed by healthy foliage turning a pretty orangey yellow in the fall. I am not impressed with the color of the canes, which is said to be plum but looks brown to me. Perhaps that will change with maturity, but then again, perhaps it is a matter of growing conditions and will stay the same. Either way, it is a keeper so far.

I got Penelope, a Pemberton hybrid musk, from Roses of Yesterday a few years ago. It is strongly fragrant and has clean foliage and a nice fountain shape.

Something about this rose really appeals to me. I can't wait till mine gets to be the size of the plant at the Heritage:

The Imposter was an impulse purchase (actually two impulse purchases) done one day in late November when I stopped at a nursery and saw this one, I mean two, lonely roses in full bloom! There was a big clearance sign in front of them, and I thought they needed a home. I have not regretted it yet. My two Imposters are always the first to bloom in early March and continue non-stop into January. The blooms disappear very quickly but are produced all the time. Because the bloom cycles are so fast, deadheading is beginning to be a real bother. I actually gave up on it this summer and they continued to bloom while setting hips at the same time, although it seemed to me that bloom production was not as prolific. The bushes are airy and twiggy but with a nice rounded shape. New blooms will come out right at the abcission point, so gentle deadheading will result in faster rebloom. In spite of that, I often have to cut some of the stem too, otherwise my bushes will be way too big by the end of summer. I like the cheerful color too with quite unusual spotting.

My Fuzzy Wuzzy Red, a miniature Moss rose, was an accidental purchase from Nor'East close-out sale. I actually wanted to buy Renae, a climbing polyantha, but they had a three-rose minimum purchase requirement, so I added it to my order. My Renae died shortly after I received it (I think it is because they sent a very immature plant), so I resented the little moss that stayed (but could have died instead) for awhile. It has pretty little leaves, very prickly canes and heavily mossed buds (of which I have no pictures because of my year-long grudge). It is not fragrant to me, and I am not crazy about red roses, so it has to give me a gorgeous spring flush this year, otherwise it might have to leave. It does mildew here too, and the blooms look a little plasticky to me.

I have trouble making accurate pictures of red roses (another reason I don't like them). The actual color is  darker and a little bluer than what my screen shows.

Here are some wonderful roses from the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden. I don't have much to say about them because I see them only occasionally. Lots more information is available at

Rosa palustris plena (species) is a light airy vase-shaped shrub reaching 6'x6'. It blooms prolifically in spring and then again quite well in the fall in a beautiful shade of pink.

Rosa moschata, another species, a nicely rounded medium sized healthy bush with simple white blooms that have a not-too strong musk fragrance. Bees love it.

Pretty hips in the fall too.

'Lupe's Buttons' (a rose found by Mel Hulse in 2004) is one of my favorite hybrid musks. I like its generosity of bloom, clean foliage and pleasing rounded shape. It gets big and has a slightly spreading habit as hybrid musks often do, reaching maybe 6'x8' at the Heritage garden.

Here is another hybrid musk, Vanity (Pemberton, 1920). It is shrubbier and more upright than many others in its class.

Blooms have an unusually deep pink color and some white stripes.

Very pretty simple blooms on Smarty (shrub, Ilsinsk 1977), showing light color in the fall.

Here is Basye's Blueberry, a rose I would love to have in a much bigger garden of my dreams.

Melfor (an unpronounceable Belgian breeder, 1988) is another one I really like the look of. It does not seem to be in commerce in the US.

I was not going to write about them, but can't really stop myself from at least mentioning Eglanteria, or Penzance, hybrids, wonderful big vase-shaped shrubs with fragrant foliage and blooms bred by Lord Penzance at the end of the 19th century. The pictures below are all of fall blooms. All these repeat modestly, although there are many more hips than blooms in the fall.


Julia Mannering

Meg Merrilies

I am missing some good ones here: Dainty Bess, Sally Holmes, Irish Elegance and Irish Fireflame, Mrs. Oakley Fisher, Poulsen's Pearl, Captain Thomas, White and Golden Wings, and many many more. I have almost totally omitted the species roses and their crosses, of which I know nothing, and also some beautiful once-bloomers and ramblers which I don't grow for various reasons. Maybe I will do another post some day...

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