I'm still going to keep the anticipation level growing for 'Duchess of Portland', because this week I feel that I just have to show you my 'Altissimo'. He's blooming in a third flush right now, and is quite a standout in his bed. If a fellow of ruddy complexion does that well in a (garden) bed, then I feel he deserves a little moment of acclamation by an appreciative rosarian.
'Altissimo', registered as DELmur, is a cardinal red large-flowered climber who may grow to 15 feet tall in warmer climates, but I've only seen him to about 7 feet here. The single flowers have velvety-textured petals and prominent yellow stamens and range from 4-5 inches in diameter. Blooms are reported to have a mild clove fragrance, which I unfortunately can't detect. 'Altissimo' blooms in rapid flushes, but is rarely without a few blooms all summer long. The blooms stand out and almost glow against the dark green glossy foliage on a healthy bush with thick, stiff, moderately-thorny canes. The foliage is fairly healthy, with a little blackspot at the bottom unless some preventatives are applied. 'Altissimo' was bred by Delbard in 1966 from a cross of 'Tenor' and a seedling. Trimmed as a shrub, I can keep him neatly at around 3-4 feet tall, with a spread almost as broad. The picture at the left is his third bloom cycle, still a stunning picture in the garden.
'Altissimo' is one of those roses that I think would make an excellent pillar rose if one were so inclined. If we don't have a reversal from global warming to cooling within the next few years, I may try him that way myself because I hate to keep him chopped down when he could be reaching for the stars. In the meantime, I can still relish his vivid red blooms at a more controlled height, shining like a beacon to drag visitors towards the back of my garden.