Sunday, June 9, 2013

Vivacious Vanguard

As the first flush of roses dissipates here on the prairie, I've been disappointed by a few "new-to-me" roses and surprised and delighted by several, but there have been none yet that I've been happier with than a little-acclaimed Hybrid Rugosa named 'Vanguard'.

'Vanguard' is a 1932 rose bred by  Glendon A. Stevens, a little-known rosarian from Pennsylvania.  'Vanguard' is a breeding of  a seedling of R. wichuraiana and R. rugosa 'Alba' crossed with the old Hybrid Tea 'Eldorado'.  Although there have been two recent more roses named 'Eldorado',  the parent of 'Vanguard' must have been the orange-blend 1923 Pernetiana Hybrid Tea by Howard and Smith.  'Vanguard' was introduced by Jackson & Perkins and is officially described as salmon-orange, with pink edges.  I can't figure out why the rose is not better known, but perhaps it is because little is written about it and some of that is not positive.  Peter Beales, in Classic Roses, describes it as "a vigorous shrub, rather untypically Rugosa, and well-foliated with glossy, bronze green leaves." Suzy Verrier, in Rosa Rugosa, doesn't say a lot that is complimentary about the rose, claiming it is barely hardy in her climate and has excessive winterkill. In a comment on, Paul Barden said "it leaves a great deal to be desired, in my opinion."   Osborne sand Powning do list it in Hardy Roses, but hardy to only zone 5. lists it as hardy to 4B.  I can only add that it had no winter die-back at all here in 6A in its first winter.

Truthfully, to my eye, the rose is a blend of pinks, oranges, and yellows, varying with the weather. Flowers seem to be more pink in colder and wetter weather and yellow as the day warms.  The blossoms start out with Hybrid-Tea form, but then open up huge, just huge, about 5 inches across, borne singly or in pairs, and mildly double with about 25 petals.  It has a strong and sweet Rugosa-type fragrance and sparse but sharp thorns.  It is labeled as once blooming by Verrier, with rare rebloom by Paul Barden, but repeat-blooming by Beales and in Hardy Roses.  The websites of Rogue Valley Roses, from which I obtained my rose, and Vintage Roses also both list it as a mild rebloomer, so I do have some hope that Verrier and Barden were, for once, wrong and that I'll see late summer blooms of 'Vanguard'.  Perhaps this rose varies rebloom by the climate.  I don't know yet if 'Vanguard' forms hips, but some Rugosa-type large red hips would be a perfect Fall finish for the rose.

I think 'Vanguard' is going to become a very large rose here in Kansas, living up to its reported 10 foot height in the references.  My one-year-old specimen is already almost 5 foot tall, much taller than the 7 other roses planted in that bed at the same time.  It has a nice vase-like structure at this age and I can already see several new canes starting for next year.

One of the biggest assets of this rose is surely going to be the mildly-rugose light green and completely disease free foliage. In fact, when a local professional horticulturist toured my garden looking for peonies to divide for the KSU rose garden, this rose's foliage caught his eye quickly and he had to stroll over to examine it closer.  'Vanguard' is reported to be rust susceptible, which could be an issue in some climates, but I've never seen rust on any rose in my garden. 

'Vanguard' won the ARS Dr. W. Van Fleet Medal in 1933 and the David Fuerstenberg Prize (ARS) in 1934.  It may not win any awards in your garden, but it has the "best of show in its first year" award from me this Summer.


  1. Jim, Vanguard is in its 6th year here and I can add some of my own observations. My plant is about nine feet tall, narrow, arching and self supporting. That disease-free foliage wouldn't be that way for long here in blackspot country. If unsprayed, the leaves yellow and drop until the plant is leafless except for the newer foliage on the tips of the canes. A bit of fungicide is a small price to pay, though. I'm sorry to report that my Vanguard has never thrown so much as a stray stunted summer flower. I love this rose despite its shortcomings, and it never fails to draw attention to itself when it is in flower. I'm glad you like it, too.

    1. Connie, thanks for the addition. I guess with a few more notes like that from other spots, I may better understand why Vanguard isn't in as much favor as I think it should be.

  2. I'm not sure if what I had was this kind of bush but it sure looks like it. I bought it on Michigan bulb 22 years ago in a package of 5 bushes deal. By the third year after planting it from a root and about 5 inches of twig, it got to be about 8 ft wide and 6 ft tall with hundreds of pink flowers all over it in the spring then the petals would fall off and cover the ground, it was so beautiful with a mystical whimsy look, driver's-by would stop just to ask what it was. I miss that bush so much!


Thank you for your interest in my blog. I like to meet friends via my blog, so I try to respond if you comment from a valid email address rather than the anonymous And thanks again for reading!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...