Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wonder 'bout Wonderstripe

For those who are searching out the "unusual" for next year's garden, I thought I'd add a preliminary note on a rose that tweaked my interest this Spring.  In my annual Heirloom Roses order, I included one of the roses that John Clements (of Heirloom Roses) bred himself; the striped yellow and pink rose he named 'Wonderstripe'.  I can't testify to its full performance yet, but I can tell you it does pretty good in an extended drought when provided a little extra water.

All who read this blog know that I'm a sucker (pun intended) for striped roses.  I don't know what it is about seeing stripes, particularly on Old Garden roses, but put a thus-afflicted rose in my hands and I'm a goner.  I'm the same way with Rembrandt tulips and I'm sure that if I'd been alive during "Tulipmania", I'd have lost the farm while trading in virus-infected tulips.  I was no less resistant to 'Wonderstripe', which offsets its pink tones not with white, as in most striped roses, but with a creamy yellow.

'Wonderstripe', which also goes under the registered name 'Clewonder', was introduced as a shrub rose by Clements in 1996.  The blooms are supposed to be large (4 inches) in diameter and double to the tune of 98 petals according to the Heirloom catalog, but so far my young rose has only been extended about 2.5 inches in diameter and is mildly double. It did bloom several times after I planted it as a band in the Spring however, and based on a thread about the rose on a Gardenweb forum, I have hope to believe that by the third year it will make a thriving bush with the promised large blooms. Again, I don't know how the mature bush will bloom, but I would rate the fragrance so far as moderate.  In a single season, 'Wonderstripe' is now about 2 foot tall and it showed no sign of blackspot this year. 

I guess I'm about to see how this Zone 5-rated plant does in a Kansas winter. I'll keep you informed about the condition of this rose in the Spring, after we see if it can survive this first winter unprotected here in my Flint Hills garden.

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