Thursday, June 5, 2014

Banshee or Banshees?

My reading is causing ProfessorRoush an identity crisis about a rose.   'Banshee' is a great rose in my climate, but the rose I call 'Banshee' may be one of several different roses known under the same name, sort of a reverse alias, if you will.  My faith that I have the "real" 'Banshee', if there is such a plant, is only based on my faith in Connie of Hartwood Roses, from whom I purchased 'Banshee'.  She obtained her plant from a cemetery in King William, Virginia.

'Banshee' is a pink Damask-like once-blooming shrub known prior to 1773.  My specimen is four years old and approximately 5 feet tall by 6 feet wide and is still growing .  Blooms are lightly double (17-25 petals) and start out medium pink, but quickly fade to blush.  Individual flowers last about 5 days before petal drop and are intensely fragrant.  Leaves are light green (sometimes described as pea green) and usually come in compound leaflets of 7.  She reminds me a lot of 'Maiden's Blush', in bush form and in flower, but she exhibits none of the wet weather balling and blight that 'Maiden's Blush' does here.  'Banshee' is completely hardy here, surviving last year's very cold Zone 5 winter without any cane dieback or loss.  I don't recall seeing any hips form but will watch again this fall.

Paul Barden has a lot to say about 'Banshee', in fact reproducing a 1977 American Rose Annual article by Leonie Bell titled "Banshee: The Great Impersonator".  Bell  regarded "the Banshees" as a strain rather than an individual rose, and believed her to be a Gallica.  Newer sources suggest that it is a R. turbinata hybrid.  The real 'Banshee', or one of her suspected full sisters, should have an acorn-cup shaped hip and a calyx more than twice the length of the bud and glanded.  And the pea green leaves.  The blown up photo at the left is a good example of the long calyx and the glanded bud.

'Banshee', faded and older flower

'Banshee' is a rose that is either loved or hated, perhaps dependent upon climatic influence and on whether a particular rose is the real 'Banshee' McCoy or an impostor.  In my climate, my 'Banshee' doesn't ball up or drop 90% of the buds before opening as other writers complain about, although 'Maiden's Blush', often been marketed as 'Banshee', does.  'Banshee' does seem to be a bit unorganized in habit, opening later to a flat and mussy flower with lots of stamens.   I have seen no blackspot or other fungus on Banshee, and in fact it seems an iron healthy rose.  Or a healthy family of roses, as the case may be.


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that Banshee is doing to well in your garden! It is one of the roses that I talked about during my talk at Monticello's Tufton Farm on Saturday. Here in Virginia, it gets almost no blackspot and it is a wonderful yellow-green accent in a sea of darker green of the once-flowering roses in summer. Garden visitors rarely fail to notice it, whether it has flowers or not.

    Last year, my Banshee (which is 8' high and about 12' wide) had about a dozen hips on it ... so, don't count on them in your garden. The flowers usually fade, dry up, and fall off.


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