Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wild Ginger Woes

My, that's a beautiful rose, isn't it?  This exquisitely formed and delicately colored Hybrid Tea-style bud belongs to 'Wild Ginger', a 1976 introduction by Dr. Griffith Buck.  Unfortunately, this is one of only two decent pictures I've ever been able to take of this rose.  If 'Wild Ginger' was a human being, I would say that she was camera shy, but the truth is that she just seems to be an unphotogenic muse.  For a rose bred from a seedling of 'Queen Elizabeth' and 'Ruth Hewitt' crossed with the pollen of 'Lady Elgin', she's also not very regal in form. 

'Wild Ginger' has been growing in my garden for 4 years, and that beautiful bud perfectly represents the always unfulfilled promise of this rose, an instant of perfection followed by inevitable disappointment.  Maybe this roses' failings are my fault; a placement too shaded by taller shrubs around it, a lack of air circulation leading to disease or too much competition from nearby perennials.  Perhaps this is just a rare Buck rose that doesn't meet my expectations.  It might do well in some climates or microenvironments but it surely doesn't like where I placed it in my garden.

Officially an orange-blend Grandiflora, 'Wild Ginger' grows tall but has given me only a few sparse 4 foot tall canes that whip and often break in the Kansas winds.  Blooms are mildly double and large, with 20 petals or so, with a mild fruity fragrance, but I see them borne singly more often than clustered.  The buds are indeed beautifully colored, but they open quickly into flat, disorganized messes.  Even when partially open, the petals often seem misshapen or deformed like the photo at right.  The orange and pink and tan color shadings are definitely "to die for", but the petals spot quickly with rain and are often affected by Botrytis blight.  'Wild Ginger' has dark green semi-glossy leaves, but they are prone to blackspot and the overall bush form is more like a spiky Hybrid Tea than a nice shrub rose.

In a nutshell, as beautiful as she is, 'Wild Ginger' is a soiled dove in my garden, prone to fungus, blemished, and frankly not very attractive below the neck.  I hope that somewhere, there's a climate where she stays more groomed and less diseased, and I intend to give her a chance in more sunlight as soon as I can get a cutting started from my sole own-root plant.  That action might just be an antiquated male reflex to save a soiled dove, but I can't give up on a beautiful lady without trying at least once to see how she'll do in a palace with clean clothes. 



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