Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Early Roses for the Prairie

I always treasure those first blooms of each season in the garden, as I'm sure most gardeners do. There are three shrub roses in my garden that trumpet the oncoming arrival of the main rose season that I would recommend to all my readers for their very early bloom and their other unique properties.  

'Marie Bugnet'
The earliest rose to bloom in my garden is a somewhat rare Rugosa rose named 'Marie Bugnet'.  Bred by Canadian George Bugnet in 1973, 'Marie Bugnet' is a bone-hardy cross of the Canadian roses 'Therese Bugnet' and 'F. J. Grootendorst'.  The child of these respectively pink and red parents, 'Marie Bugnet' is a very well-behaved pure white rose that blooms consistently before any other rose in my garden.  Continuous-flowering, double, and very fragrant, she stays about four foot tall and three feet wide and like a proper lady, she stays home and never suckers herself around the garden like other Rugosas.  As an added bonus, the crinkled foliage is completely resistent to blackspot and mildew.  

Two other quite different roses are not nearly as well-behaved since they tend to run around the garden throwing up clumps here or there, but they have, along with their early bloom, enough positive attributes to offset that wanton proliferation.  'Harison's Yellow' is a bright yellow cross of  R. spinosissima (from which  it gets the unique small leaves), and R. foetida (from which the yellow and the slightly pungent odor were inherited).  An exceedingly thorny shrub, it can double as a protective security barrier beneath a window or exist simply as a bright spot in the early spring garden, but you need to enjoy its bloom when you can, for it does not repeat during the season.  'Therese Bugnet', a parent of the aforementioned Marie Bugnet, is a bright fuchsia-pink, continuous blooming Rugosa cross which blooms alongside 'Harison's Yellow' for a seasonal display and then keeps on blooming sporadically throughout the summer.  I once saw an article which included the tall (six foot) 'Therese Bugnet' in a group of roses whose long canes provide extra interest by dancing in the wind, but the canes of  'Therese Bugnet' also turn a dusky red in the winter, giving some late winter color to the garden similar to that of a red-twig dogwood. 
'Therese Bugnet' (left) and 'Harison's Yellow' (right)

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