Thursday, March 31, 2011

How Long the Rose?

During that dreaded time period that pulls many gardeners reluctantly away from their Spring gardens (i.e. tax preparation time), I happened across some important information that I want to reproduce here for the benefit of other rosarians. While I was hauling off the truckloads of worthless annual paper and filing the few sheets of information that are actually important to my life, I found my copy of a February 1992 Horticulture article by Ian S.Ogilvie and Neville P. Arnold titled Roses From the North.

The purpose of Ogilvie and Arnold's article was primarily to review the history of the breeding of hardy roses in Canada, but they have an interesting table in the article that provides an extra bit of information I wish was available for all roses in commerce, particularly for those that are blurring the boundaries between once-blooming and remontant roses.  In a table listing the Canadian cultivars, their color, habit, number of petals, and hardiness zones, they also listed the number of weeks each cultivar was in bloom between June 1st and September 30th, presumably at the L'Assomption site, and the relative blackspot resistance there:

Cultivar                                     Weeks of Bloom                  Blackspot Resistance
'Assinaboine'                               9.0                                        medium
'Cuthbert Grant'                           10.0                                      high
'Morden Ruby'                            8.9                                         medium
'Adelaide Hoodless'                     8.8                                        medium
'Morden Amorette'                      10.0                                      medium
'Morden Cardinette'                    10.0                                       medium
'Morden Centennial'                    10.7                                       medium
'Morden Blush'                            12.3                                      medium
'Morden Fireglow'                       9.0                                        medium
'Martin Frobisher'                        13.3                                      medium
'Henry Hudson'                            13.4                                      high
'David Thompson'                        12.7                                      high
'Charles Albanel'                          11.3                                      high
'John Cabot'                                10.3                                      high
'William Baffin'                             10.4                                      high
'Henry Kelsey'                             9.0                                        medium
'John Davis'                                 11.6                                      high
'John Franklin'                             14.0                                      medium
'Champlain'                                 13.6                                      medium
'Alexander Mackenzie'                9.4                                        high
'J.P.Connell'                                8.1                                        medium
'Capt. Samuel Holland'                12.2                                      high
'Louis Jolliet'                                14.5                                     high

I know this table reproduced from Ogilvie and Arnold leaves a lot of questions for those of a scientific mindset (how many years of bloom were averaged to obtain these numbers, spraying protocols, etc), but this information from two individuals involved in the breeding of these roses is still priceless for gardeners who are choosing roses for their landscapes. Yes, I agree that it would be nice to have disease resistance ratings and bloom periods like this for various climates and locations (in Virginia versus Kansas for instance), but for now, this information is the best available and I think that it relatively fits what I see for these roses here in Kansas.  'Champlain' for instance is almost never without bloom and perhaps once or twice in a bad year I have sprayed it for blackspot, compared to 'Cuthbert Grant' who seems to have several cycles with rest periods in-between, but whom I've never sprayed for blackspot.

It also encourages me to keep better records. I grow somewhere around 150 roses at last count.  Information on the dozen Buck roses I grow, for instance, might be of interest to others.  If only I didn't have to earn money to support the lifestyle the missus has become accustomed to, I could just walk around Thoreau-like with a notebook jotting down the blooming periods of roses.  I'm sure that someday I'll have the time.  I should perhaps plan for reincarnation as a bumblebee.  I'd have time to visit all the roses and the ability to sting those who annoy me.  Not a bad life, eh?


  1. It would be great to have this information in some standardized form that includes variables for regional seasons. I see how fixed dates for comparison could be important. Another route could be percentage of weeks in bloom during a season. If you devise or decide on a measurement be sure to let us know. Some of us might be willing to join you in the process. While our winters in Oklahoma are not as cold as yours, I think our summers are more similar. BTW, if you come back as a bumblebee please keep your stinger pointed North.

  2. I'm glad to see I am not the only one that can get side tracked by something worthwhile (reading an old magazine) while doing menial tasks (filing income tax forms)!

    Your table has encouraged me to actually track the blooms of my various roses (but only about 75) in this beginning PNW garden. I wistfully hope that I get as much as 13 weeks of bloom on anything here. Next year maybe I will add some of the Canadians, just to see how they compare with what I have. Thanks for posting the table!

  3. So nice to see your rose in bloom. I have kept a record of all my plants since 2006 & it is fabulous to refer back to their bloom time and issues i wrote down. Although this spring everything is few weeks behind schedule - xoxo, Tracie

  4. What a wonderful idea! I don't think I've ever seen a chart like that for our area. It may even motivate me to go seek one out. I was just talking to someone about the relative bloom length of Valentine, the red Knockout and the new Dick Clark. My answers were based on gut feel but it would have been good to have some data. Thanks for sharing!


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