There lies a rose within my chest
A rose, crimson red and beating
In summer's heat it knows no rest
Steadfast 'Hunter', never fleeting.
I grow it, yet it stabs my hand
with prickles, fearsome sharp and many
Rugose the leaves, of health and grand
A simple rose, yet good as any
The sparkling rose referred to in this miserable rhyme, of course, is the 1961 introduction by Mattock in the United Kingdom. 'Hunter' (sometimes called 'The Hunter') is a cross of the tetraploid orange-red floribunda 'Independence', and the light pink diploid cross of R. arvensis and R. rugosa known as R. paulii, or simply just as 'Paulii'. 'Hunter' boasts double-petalled bright red flowers of long-lasting color, fading at last to a deeper red-purple before falling from the bush. He stands in the middle of my front house bed, about 4 foot tall, and in a rare winter has had a little bit of cane dieback, but the gorgeous red flower is worth taking that chance. I fell in love with the idea of this rose after being introduced to it by Suzy Verrier in her 1999 text Rosa Rugosa.
Published and posted information varies widely on this rose and I'll add in my personal observations. First and foremost, let me state that I've had this rose almost a decade and it took until this year to convince me that it really was capable of an exceptional display. Some sources state that it lacks vigor, and for me it indeed struggled for several years, surrounded by Monarda and other perennials, and it seems to have suddenly decided to just grow over them and live in the sunshine. Since then, the past three or four years, it has added bulk and thick canes, spreading out without growing taller. Some references say the rose is prone to blackspot, and while I do see some yellowing and loss of the lower foliage regularly, I haven't seen the typical fungal appearance and I don't spray my 'Hunter'. The fragrance is listed from "mild" to "strong," but I would agree with a "mild" rating. Bloom repeat is sporadic throughout the summer, with three to four flushes over the season that never reach the bounty of the original flush.