Tuesday, April 24, 2012
In terms of R. rugosa hybrids, I have just the opposite feelings about 'Robusta' (KORgosa) as I previously mentioned about 'Purple Pavement'. I like the bright clear red color of Robusta far more than the muddy rose-pink of PP, but the 'Robusta' bush is an awkward thorny danger to man and beast. I have two, at either pole of an elliptical bed that I refer to as my "east rose berm", but I wish they were farther inside the bed each time I snag my clothes on them in passing. 'Robusta' is the one rose that makes me wish I had chain mail gloves during spring trimming.
'Robusta' grows far less dense than 'Purple Pavement' and the form appears more like a bad Hybrid Tea with its copy of a Hybrid Tea's ungainly rigid cane spread. 'Robusta' grows about 6 foot tall and almost as wide in my garden, and in previously more Zone 5 winters, it might have a little killback on a few canes. He is a single rose, of 5 large petals with occasional repeat, and this is one of my "indicator" roses for blackspot. In other words, unlike many of the roses I grow, this one needs occasional spray else fungal disease will take off most of the leaves. 'Robusta' was bred by Reimer Kordes in 1979 from a seedling cross with R. rugosa regeliana. In my experience, many of the Kordes roses (for example, 'Illusion' and 'Rugelda') have wicked thorns, so the evil spikes on 'Robusta', a triploid, are no surprise to me. There is no fragrance that I can detect.
Between the lack of disease resistance and the thorns, you might wonder why I persist in growing this rose, but look no farther than that bright cherry-red color. What a beacon 'Robusta' makes in my garden when he is in full bloom! Of course, if you follow that beacon you'll end up sliced into ribbons, but that is just one of the realities of loving a good really red rose. Come to think of it, why do I grow 'Robusta'?
I can think of only really good reason to grow a large hedge of this rose: to limit trespass across your yard from neighborhood school children. Or perhaps if you wanted to have a sure way to protect a daughter from an avid suitor at her window. A few of those thorns, properly placed, would take the ardor out of anyone.