Monday, July 14, 2014

Token Hybrid Teas

Yes, I grow some Hybrid Tea Roses.  A few.  A very few.  A small fraction of the Hybrid Teas that you would find in a regular rose garden are mixed among my Rugosa's and Canadian's and Old Garden Roses.  Except for a few Griffith Buck roses that are officially listed as Hybrid Tea's, however, I can count the classic Hybrid Teas in my garden on the fingers of both hands.  I grow 'Olympiad', 'Garden Party', 'Pristine', 'First Prize', and 'Double Delight', and....two that I  absolutely can't do without; delicate and refined 'Tiffany' and her older and more softly-colored sister, 'Helen Traubel'.
'Tiffany' is a 1954 offspring of 'Charlotte Armstrong' X 'Girona', bred by Robert Lindquist.  This delicate medium pink rose with a yellow base to her petals has a tremendous fragrance, strong enough to make her the second winner of the James Alexander Gamble award for fragrance from the American Rose Society in 1962.  She was also a winner of the coveted AARS award in 1955.  Blooms are large, double, and very high-centered on long stems.  She grows in my garden as the own-root clone of a former grafted $3.00 bag rose, a tough start to life on the prairie, but one that keeps her coming back year after year.   She is not cane hardy in my garden, and she needs occasional spray for blackspot, but as a rose princess, she's welcome to stay as long as she likes.

'Helen Traubel'
'Helen Traubel' is also a cross of 'Charlotte Armstrong', but this time the promiscuous lass dallied with a Kordes-bred Hybrid Tea named 'Glowing Sunset'.   This apricot-hued Hybrid Tea bred in 1951 by Herbert Swim has a larger bloom than 'Tiffany', with an average diameter of around 5 inches in my garden, and she grows a bit taller.  'Helen Traubel'  opens a little more loosely and quickly and I prefer her coloration, blushing and glowing at the same time.  Fragrance is moderate, not nearly as strong as 'Tiffany', but still lovely. 

These grand old dames are not viewed equally in rosedom.  'Tiffany' is widely viewed as a proper and refined lady of high acclaim.   'Helen Traubel' has a bit of a poor reputation, the black sheep of the sisters as it were, to the point where she is called "Hell 'n' Trouble" by some sources.  Various rosarians complain about the blooms of the latter nodding with weak necks, and a tendency for blackspot.  Personally, in terms of health and performance, I prefer 'Helen Traubel' over 'Tiffany' in my vicious climate.  In my garden, 'Tiffany' needs coddling, is only marginally hardy, and while her blooms are beautiful, I wouldn't ever describe the bush as vigorous.  In contrast, I've watched a dozen bushes of 'Helen Traubel' for a couple of decades in the Manhattan City Rose Garden, and out of a group of probably 40 different Hybrid Tea and Floribundas, she is consistently the most hardy and vigorous.  In fact, most years she is cane hardy without added protection at that garden.  'Tiffany' died out in the City Rose Garden and at the KSU Rose Garden.  I've only grown 'Helen Traubel' about three years in my own garden, but already she has twice the number of healthy canes as 'Tiffany'.  Both roses need blackspot preventatives in Kansas, so there isn't a clear winner in that regard.

All things considered, I think these two roses are a perfect example of roses who respond better to some climates and grow poorly in others.  I also see them as a rallying call for the importance of regional rose trials and lists of best regional performers.  It doesn't matter to me how large or beautiful a rose blooms in California if it won't stand up to the wind and heat of Manhattan. Kansas.  

'Helen Traubel'


  1. I seem to have lost my comment. I was wondering if the urge ever catches you to try and breed from your best roses in your climate for the perfect rose for you?

    1. I have saved some hips and have two roses, nothing special, that I raised from them. I'm not inclined right now to start a breeding program...I have too little knowledge and too little time :)

  2. Why only a handful of Hybrid Teas ? I am the same, and only have one, bought cheaply, as it had lost its label. They just don't do it for me, but I can't analyse why that is. They are beautiful - but they fail to stir the soul.


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