Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Treasured Copper

Occasionally the fickle gods smile on the beleaguered gardener and a little serendipity serves to brighten the new day.  For me, a moment of surprise that remains fresh in memory is of driving a street in a blighted Colorado neighborhood on a bright Spring day to behold a gorgeous 'Austrian Copper' rose (Rosa foetida bicolor) sitting all alone on a standard street corner, blooming its flaming head off. I'd never encountered 'Austrian Copper' before, but a quick picture was all it took to enable me to identify it later, and thus to search out a source to add it to my own garden.

'Austrian Copper', Greeley, CO 2008
Look carefully at the picture to the left. The scene is a stunning 'Austrian Copper' next to a concrete sidewalk and asphalt street.  The weather has been so dry that the grass around the rose is completely splotchy and mostly dead, and the rose sits at the feet of a tree that probably is soaking up any leftover moisture in the rock hard soil. It's obvious that with little water, with absolutely no care, this picturesque dream of a rose is making up for all the shortcomings of its environment by blooming like it doesn't have a care in the world.


'Austrian Copper' is a very old rose, described at least as early as 1590.  Its single petals, colored by the burnt-orange pigments bestowed by chance, outline the bright yellow stamens, and the petals have a yellow reverse.  It's a rose that wears its heritage on its sleeves, commonly reverting to the bright yellow 'Austrian Yellow' (Rosa foetida) as it does at the bottom of the rose above. At least two sources state that an alternate name is Rose Capucine, although I cannot determine the origin of this name. True to its mysterious and duplicitous nature, some Internet sources describe it as a climber while others describe it as a short shrub reaching only two to five feet tall.  One reference correctly states that it tolerates poor soil and resents close pruning, two very desired qualities of a rose in my worldview. And anyway, who would even want to prune this rose, chancing to lose even a single bloom of the copper perfection?

I now have two 'Austrian Copper' to keep my prairie rose garden brightened; the original, a carefully-searched out and expensive cutting, and the second specimen, which showed up the following year for a pittance at the local Home Depot.  The latter appearance, of a coveted and seemingly rare rose in quantity at the local box store, is, of course, a sign that the gods have gotten the last laugh again.

4 comments:

  1. I totally just found this one myself. I asked the guy at the nursery what the beautiful orange and yellow rose growing all over Santa Fe was and without a hesitation he said, "Austrian Copper", now I want one too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I too just discovered this rose, just in time for National Rose Month I might add!

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful information.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I live in a little town in SW Colorado and this rose grows all over the county including my yard- yay! I knew it had to be old, but until now could never identify it. So happy to finally have an ID!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I live in a little town in SW Colorado and this rose grows all over the county including my yard- yay! I knew it had to be old, but until now could never identify it. So happy to finally have an ID!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your interest in my blog. I like to meet friends via my blog, so I try to respond if you comment from a valid email address rather than the anonymous "noresponse@blogger.com". And thanks again for reading!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...