In this year's young group of Griffith Buck roses, the award for the best performance by a newcomer goes to little-known 'Chorale'. This rose has wowed me over and over with its color and its form. In my "Central Buck" bed, it grows right next to 'Quietness', the latter a better-known and highly regarded Buck rose, yet 'Chorale' is out-performing it day after day.
'Chorale' is a light pink Shrub rose bred by Dr. Buck in 1978. There is little information on the Internet regarding this rose beyond its parentage, listed on helpmefind.com as a tetraploid cross between a seedling of 'Ruth Hewitt' X 'Queen Elizabeth', with a seedling of 'Morning Stars' X 'Suzanne'. 'Suzanne' is a pink Spinosissima and gives 'Chorale' her presumed hardiness and perhaps the moderate thorniness, but I can see little other evidence of Spinosissima in her. The other three ancestors are all Modern hybrids, with 'Queen Elizabeth' the only well-known rose of the group.
'Chorale' has nice, high-centered, fully double blooms of 50 petals and the color is a perfect pale pink that will blend well with almost any other rose or perennial. The blooms are large, approximately 3 1/2 inches in diameter, and they fade to white as they age. She has a strong apple fragrance that is particularly prominent on hot days, dark green, healthy leaves, and she blooms continually; since she was six inches high, I've never seen her without a bloom and already this summer she's on at least her 3rd flush in the photo at the left. I can't ask for more from a baby rose.
'Chorale' was chosen as a blackspot-susceptible control plant in one Earth-Kind study (Zlesak DC et al, HortScience 2010;45:1779-87), but the results of challenging the plant with 3 different "races" of blackspot did not show 'Chorale' as the worst of the test group. In fact it had less blackspot than Belinda's Dream, a designated Earth-Kind rose for two of the three strains of blackspot. Since rose cultivar resistance to blackspot is dependent on the blackspot strain or strains in a region and since resistance changes as the pathogen evolves, I can only state here that 'Chorale' is blackspot free in my garden at present (unsprayed), as you can see from the photo above.
A "chorale" is a "hymn or psalm sung to a traditional or composed melody in church," or it refers to a "chorus or choir". When Dr. Buck named this rose, I'm not sure if he was paying homage to the beauty of the blooms or if he was referencing the fact that this rose always seems to have a group of blooms on it, but I suppose he could be referring to both meanings of the name. Regardless, this is a rose that I'm going to expect a lot out of in the future.