Friday, July 6, 2012


I am fully aware that in my advocacy for the Griffith Buck roses, I often veer dangerously close to being mistaken for a mouth-foaming, rabid animal, or else, in this zombie-crazed era, a Koolaid-drinking zombie.  Yes, for the record, I am a rabid supporter of Dr. Buck's rose program.  His career work breeding and selecting roses in my general region and with no extra winter-care or pesticides has benefited every rose-lover in the MidWest.  Those principles certainly resulted in a number of beautiful and healthy roses for the Kansas climate.

To be brutally honest, though, there are a few Buck roses that I am a little less enthusiastic about, and 'Folksinger' is one of those at present.  'Folksinger' is a yellow-blend shrub bred by Dr. Buck in 1985.  On paper, I should be absolutely crazy about this rose, which is a cross of 'Carefree Beauty' (one of the best roses to grow in Kansas) and 'Sunsprite' (long my favorite yellow Floribunda and a very fragrant one). I agree that  'Folksinger' is fragrant, but to my nose it is a step down from the award-winning  'Sunsprite'.   The initial color of the double flower is actually a peachy-orangey tone that I really like in roses, but on the downside, it fades quickly.  In fact, that rapid fade touches on my biggest complaint about 'Folksinger'; the Hybrid-tea style buds look great and then often, before I can enjoy the bloom, it opens up quickly and fades to off-white (see the bloom at the right, only one day older than the same bloom at the upper left).  I guess I have a second complaint as well; I initially thought that it repeated quickly as a very young own-root rose, but this year I feel the repeat of this rose is fairly slow; both 'Queen Bee' and 'Bright Melody' in the same bed have bloomed three times while 'Folksinger' is just coming into a second wave of bloom.

The bush is about 3 foot tall and round in its second full Summer here in my Kansas garden, just short of its mature expected height of 4 feet, and I do have to be honest and admit that the foliage is a perfect glossy medium-green and very healthy.  No fungal sprays or insecticide needed here.  It is fully hardy in my garden and is reported to do well down to Zone 4 winters without protection. 

'Folksinger' is certainly a rose that I will keep growing, and perhaps it just needs to make it to maturity to win over my heart.  Then again, maybe it is the climate change and the heat this year that the rose is not just responding to.  I may find I like it better in cooler Fall.  Or perhaps next Spring.  Or perhaps the Spring after that.  Dr. Buck could not have been wrong.

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