Friday, October 19, 2012

UnElectrifying Failure

'High Voltage'
I'm sure many of you out there in roseland grow some of the Bailey Nursery Easy Elegance Roses, a new-ish line of shrub roses bred over the last decade by Ping Lim.  Ping's roses are gaining wide acclaim for health and performance, and have won a number of national awards, including the honor of having three recent AARS winners. I grow and enjoy several of the Easy Elegance line myself, among which are 'Sweet Fragrance', 'Super Hero', and 'The Finest'.  I'm especially fond of the apricot color and fragrance of 'Sweet Fragrance'. 

'High Voltage' at 2 years of age
In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you, however, that I'm disappointed in the light yellow Easy Elegance shrub 'High Voltage' ('BAIage'), introduced by Bailey in 2009.  I am not trying to deny that 'High Voltage' is a vigorous and healthy rose.  At four years of age she stands about 4 foot tall and wide in my garden and I've never seen her badly affected by blackspot or other disease. And she is reliably cane-hardy in my climate.  The rotund little vixen has not, however, atttained her advertised "vase-like" shape, and the stiff thick canes are now making a massive attempt to smother adjacent, less vigorous roses.  I am also not overwhelmed by the beauty of the light yellow, double blooms. They are small and barely double and definitely not electrifying.  The advertised moderate to strong fragrance has not appeared and the color of just-opened blooms is not bright enough to grab my eye as a garden fixture.  Here in the blazing Kansas sun, they fade quickly and melt, and the delicate petals seem to spot easily with rain. 

'High Voltage' hips
Most disappointing of all, to me, has been the lack of rebloom.  As you know, I don't deadhead the vast majority of my roses and I wouldn't even think of deadheading this shrub offering any more than I would deadhead  'Knock Out'.  I discovered this year that if you don't deadhead 'High Voltage', at least here in Kansas in a drought, you get a mass of ultimately uninspiring dull orange hips, but no significant rebloom. This year, I admit, has been a tough test, but although this rose put on a strong first showing, there was not a single bud again until very recently, when a few random blooms appeared right before the freeze that ended my garden year.  And those just aren't enough for the formal part of my rose garden.

Since I'm one of those gardeners who is unable to kill a plant outright, I think I'm going to move it next year to one of my beds with more non-remonant roses, where I won't be so disappointed in its inability to rebloom.  Maybe somewhere out there, among the pilgrims, it can still earn a place in my garden, but I can't recommend her as a landscaping plant for the more-discriminating homeowner.


  1. Valuable information. Wonder how it compares to J.P. Connell, another yellow shrub on my wish list.

    1. Uh, sorry Frank, J.P. Connell has been a little weak in my garden. I like the form of J.P. better, but the flowers are similar, J. P. being a little more double but the same quick-fading yellow. High Voltage is much more vigorous at least here.

      I'm hard-pressed to tell you a yellow shrub I really like...maybe Topaz Jewel? Maybe Jeri Jennings if you don't mind small flowers.

    2. Honestly, I'd pick Prairie Harvest, a Buck rose, but more of a hybrid tea, before any of these if you like the pale yellows.

    3. Thanks for the advice. I have several Buck roses, but not Prairie Harvest. It's top of my list for next spring.

  2. Well, I do like the hips, but I agree with you on the deadheading. I can't imagine deadheading all the shrubs. I have one bush that likes to form hips. And often I forget to deadhead it, or only do a partial job. Right now the right side of it is full of blooms. The left side is full of hips! Oops!


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