Did you ever have a love-hate relationship with a rose? I have one with a spectacular rose that should be on the top of everyone's list, but it just can't ever seem to make it to the top of mine. 'Earthsong', a 1975 introduction by Dr. Griffith Buck, has so many positive attributes that I almost feel guilty telling you that it is not one of my top ten roses, but it just isn't okay? Please don't think less of me for it.
What, you might ask, is my complaint against a 4-5 foot tall continually-blooming rose with perfect hybrid-tea-like bud form? A grandiflora that is unfailingly completely hardy in my zone 5b climate without any winter protection? A rose that I haven't had to trim at all for 3 years but which maintains a perfect vase shape all on its own? A rose that self-cleans its fully double blooms and leaves a few nice orange hips behind for winter interest? One that never, ever requires me to take up defensive positions with a fungicide- or insecticide-filled sprayer?
My sole problem with this rose is the color. Variously described as "deep pink," "fuchsia pink," and "Tyrian red" (which is the same as Tyrian Purple and I've never actually seen that color), 'EarthSong' is just a little too much on the "hot" pink side for me. A little too showy and vivid for either a Iowa State horticulture professor to have introduced, or for a Kansas State veterinary professor to feel comfortable inviting to a mixer with just any other group of plants. I find the color just a little garish, a little bold, a little too vibrant. Against a nice bright yellow (I have it next to floribunda 'Sunsprite'), it'll even make your eyes bleed. But alone in the garden, it will certainly stand out from surrounding green plants. And my own-root 'EarthSong' cloned itself with a runner this year in an attempt to endear me to it. I moved the runner over between bright red 'Illusion' and 'Red Moss', where it hopefully won't be quite so grating.
'EarthSong' is a cross of 'Music Maker' and 'Prairie Star', the latter another disease free and perfect rose that is a much more acceptable cream in my garden. A candidate under evaluation at present for the EarthKind designation, 'EarthSong' should perform well in just about anyone's garden. Just as long as you don't mind the color.