Sunday, May 6, 2012


Hybrid Gallica 'Allegra'
Of the several Paul Barden-bred hybrid Gallicas that are entering their second full summer in my garden, I believe that pink 'Allegra' has my vote for newcomer of the year.  She's at full bloom, right now, and I'm quite impressed by the durability of the blooms in the Kansas wind and sun.

'Allegra' (ARDjoy) was bred by Paul Barden in 2000 and introduced, according to "helpmefind" by The Uncommon Rose in 2004.  I find the bloom of 'Allegra' reminiscent of the superb 1816 Alba 'Konigin von Danemark', with a similar shade of pink and the same neat button-eyed and quartered appearance, but much larger bloom size and with a better fragrance.  'Allegra's very double blooms are every bit of 4 inches in diameter and it has an incredibly strong Gallica scent to my nose, among the strongest of rose fragrances in my garden, right now second perhaps only to 'Madame Hardy' and 'Madame Issac Pierre'.  In its second year of age, it is 2.5 feet high and around, and I expect it will reach its advertised mature height of 4 to 6 feet easily. It was fully hardy last year in my garden and has no blackspot or mildew presently visible.  Look closely at the clean foliage in the pictures if you don't believe me.

A few more blossoms of 'Allegra'
Many of my garden roses were affected by the recent cold and damp nights and left with discolored, pale, or balled-up blossoms, but impressively, 'Allegra' seems immune to the weather and has provided me with a number of perfect blossoms.  According to Paul Barden's website, I can expect four to six weeks of bloom with flowers opening sequentially on inflorescences, so a long bloom phase is yet another positive note for 'Allegra'  Paul also hinted that this rose doesn't hit its stride until it is several years old, so I can only imagine the beauty to come next year.  A cross of Gallica 'Duchesse de Montebello' and St. Swithun (a pink David Austin/English rose), 'Allegra' reportedly does not sucker like it's Gallica ancestors and for that, I'm thankful because I grow tired of rooting out Gallica suckers in my rose beds.

I'm always interested in the origin of the name of a rose and 'Allegra' is an excellent example of why the written notes of rose breeders are so often a treasure.  I speculated, from knowledge buried deep with my musical training, that 'Allegra' would denote a rose that bloomed or grew, as the dictionary indicates, "with a light and lively tempo", but Paul Barden's website notes that he named the rose "to honor a dear friend of mine who fell in love with this rose when she first saw it."  And thus, a rose was named.

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