Saturday, July 12, 2014

Basye's Purple Rose


For fellow rose-nuts who want to grow the unusual, I would recommend that they try 'Basye's Purple Rose' as a candidate for scratching that particular thorny itch.  For the photographers among the group, it will also present the challenge of correctly capturing the difficult wine-red color into a digital file.  As you can see from the varying hues represented by the photographs on this page, that is not an easy task.  The first photo, at the left here, best captures the exact tint and hue according to my eyes.  Iphone photos of this rose, like the second picture here, often turn out truly awful.  I've mentioned it in this blog before, but I like it enough that I felt it deserved a page of its very own.


'Basye's Purple Rose' is officially a mauve shrub rose bred by Dr. Robert E. Basye in 1968.  According to
William Welch, Basye rejected the rose as "a jewel in the rough", but the rose made it to commerce nonetheless, perhaps through stock given to Welch by Basye in 1983.  A cross of R. foliolosa and R. rugosa rubra, I've placed it in my mind as a Hybrid Rugosa, although I suppose it could just alternatively just as easily be described as a Hybrid Foliolosa.  Blooms are single with 5 petals, about 2.5 inches wide, have a mild fragrance to my nose, and repeat sporadically.  After the first flush the bush usually has a few blooms on it, but it won't make a large impact on garden color for the rest of the season.  I've seen the color described in various sources as "rich cabernet-red", "fuchsia", "magenta", and "rich wine-crimson with strong purple tones".  Personally, I would incorporate the velvety texture of the petals into my description of the color and tell the reader that the petals were cut out of the royal purplish-red robe of an English king.

This shrub is healthy here in Kansas, with no blackspot or mildew visible, but it is reported to mildew in some climates.  It has narrow medium green leaves, but the leaves towards the bottom 18 inches of the plant tend to drop off over the summer with no apparent disease.  The picture at left illustrates the bush in full bloom.  It was completely cane hardy in my garden last year in a winter that took almost all modern hybrid roses back to the ground, so I'm sure it's hardy in Zone 4 and probably can be successfully grown in Zone 3.  Terminal height in my garden is about 5 feet high and about 4 feet wide from the original plant.  It does throw up suckers on its own roots and I expect this rose could form a thicket if untended.  Young canes are red and very thorny, while older canes have less numerous awl-like prickles, but the bush form is gangly and not well covered.

'Basye's Purple Rose' is a collector's plant, not a landscaping specimen, and it seems to be primarily known and raised in America.  I couldn't find any mention of it in Peter Beale's Classic Roses, Twentieth-Century Roses, or Roses, but it is is described in G. Michael Shoup's Roses in Southern Gardens and William Welch's Antique Roses for Southern Gardens.  The latter describes it as ravishingly fragrant, but is the only source I've seen that attributes it with any substantial bouquet.

There are reports that 'Basye's Purple Rose' is tetraploid and fertile with modern roses.  Paul Barden listed the rose as "likely my very favorite Rugosa and certainly one of my favourite roses period.   Few, however,  seem interested in the rose as breeding stock.   Kim Rupert perhaps stated it most clearly in a  post on helpmefind.com/rose where he said "Able to be crossed with other roses, but far from willing and extremely willing to pass on awful plant architecture....a truly awful choice for breeding."   


8 comments:

  1. I love this rose ... though I have to disagree with your notion that it isn't a landscape specimen. The contrast of the unusually colored leaves and the red brown stems, along with its growth habit, can have it function as a star in a collector's garden. I bought mine one fall when it didn't have a single flower on it.

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    1. Well, I was thinking of a long hedge of them...which I think would be a gawky and ungainly mess.

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  2. A lovely rose which I have not come across here in the UK.

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    1. UK Gardeners may just have better taste!

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  3. I love single roses. This one is lovely if it resembles the colour in the first photo. It's not seen in the UK. How weird that all the colour descriptions you give contradict each other.I wonder if we all see colour differently.

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    1. We might, but I think this one is primarily a problem of not having a defined color nomenclature. We need to resort to the standard color palette's and often don't.

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  4. I have two Bayse's Purples and I love them (I bought one, had to move it, and some roots stayed in the ground and sprouted) although it's certainly leggy and gawky. In its first couple of years here it died back, but since then (6 years?) there has been no cane damage no matter how bad the winter is, other than some breakage when a glacier came off the roof. Zone 4 here.

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    1. It is prolific from those roots, isn't it?

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