As it turns out, Bailey Nurseries likely did create some 'Lillian Gibson' plants that year, but they didn't sell well and the remains ended up as "bagged" roses at Home Depot in 2011, where I snagged two of them. One of those decrepit bagged roses lived, with the result that I now have a 4 foot tall sprawling rose antique in my garden.
|'Lillian Gibson', 2 years old and early in bloom|
Niels Ebbesen Hansen, whose nickname was the "Burbank of the Plains," was the first head of the horticulture department at South Dakota College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts and served from 1895 until 1937. He was an intrepid plant explorer and introduced hundreds of varieties of alfalfa, forage grasses, fruits, and roses bred to thrive in the cold, arid conditions of the northern plains. There is a picture of him here at this site. Somewhere along the line, most of his rose introductions have been lost, but others live on in the genes of hardy Griffith Buck and Canadian Roses. The losses of those roses are sad for rose lovers on the Plains, but I can understand it if 'Lillian Gibson's sole claim to fame was as the "sensation of the 1938 Sioux Falls Flower Show." That's sort of like being the Squash Queen in Hog Heaven Falls, Oklahoma. Thankfully, however, dedicated rosarians like Suzy Verrier keep singing her praises and some remnants of 'Lillian Gibson' will always survive in obscure gardens like mine. The photo of the full bush above and to the left is today's picture, with only the central bud in each cluster blooming. I'll update this blog in a few days with a picture of her full bloom.
Update: 06/02/13. On this date, almost two weeks after she started blooming, I'll declare the bloom cycle of 'Lillian Gibson' at peak; feast your eyes! Can you say "Wow"!