Friday, September 27, 2013

Prairie Valor

'Prairie Valor'
Dr. Griffith Buck chose some fabulous descriptive names for his roses, but I think he outdid himself while bestowing an identity on one of his later creations, the deep red rose 'Prairie Valor'.  The Iowa State Buck website only describes 'Prairie Valor' as a medium red shrub rose, of the color Indian lake (RHSCC 59B).  I don't know what that really means, but the 59B group comprises those hues that are near ruby-red and "ruby red" fits the rose really well.  Most importantly, this rose touches something that most roses don't.   'Prairie Valor' elicits, at least in me, a visceral response whose presence I find hard to explain.  My first bloom from this rose evoked a deep down, gut-moving feeling of awe, and the feeling reoccurs each time a new bloom opens.  What I believe Dr. Buck felt in this rose was exactly that; the sense of bravery transmitted by the presence of purple undertones among the ruby shades.   'Prairie Valor' hides a Knight's heart beneath its velvet petals.

'Prairie Valor' was introduced in 1984 and bears those ruby red blooms as large (4.5") fully double flowers, often in clusters.  The first photo here, above at right, best reproduces the true color tones of this rose as I perceive them.  Each petal develops a whiter edge as it ages and  flowers repeat consistently in flushes over the summer.  In addition to the rare color, the fragrance of Prairie Valor also sets it apart from many other roses in my garden.  'Prairie Valor' has a deep, musky, almost masculine fragrance that buries itself deep in your nostrils.  I've written tongue-in-cheek about the gender of different roses, but I'm not joking when I say that 'Prairie Valor' can only be male, from its color and presentation, to its scent.

The bush is moderately healthy, about 4 foot tall and 3 foot wide in typical Hybrid-Tea gangly form, and this year, the first in my garden, it developed mild blackspot.  I would guess that only about 25% of the leaves have been affected thus far, however, and it continues to bloom freely.  I do not know yet how winter hardy it will prove, but I did see an Internet note from Appalachia that suggested that winter damage is possible.  I also saw a note that said the cultivar is a blackspot magnet in North Carolina.  Who can say?  Time in the guise of a couple of full years of growth will tell me what I need to know.

Somewhere, deep down inside, I know that 'Prairie Valor' is probably not the healthiest of the Griffith Buck roses, but I already know that I'm going to give it a little extra attention in my garden.  I'm willing to trade off a little additional care, on occasion, for any bloom that stirs my blood like 'Prairie Valor', however much a hands-off rosarian I strive to be.  I know, deep inside, that it must advantage any garden of this world, however fertile the soil and mild the climate in which it is based, to bear the soul of a medieval Knight in its heart.


  1. Hello, enjoy your blog! Where did you find the Prairie Valor? I'm in Wichita, but I travel to KC area frequently.

    1. It's available mail order at They're good folk.


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