Saturday, November 1, 2014

Gruss an Aachen

Jane at Hoe Hoe Grow, a blog from Lincolnshire UK, has noted recently that her roses need to be told that it is October there, not June.  In contrast, the roses here in Kansas are winding down and hardening off right on time.  As we have edged closer to the first hard freeze, I've kept snipping blooms and bringing them indoors so that they continue to brighten our late October mornings, but I also leave a number of flowers to form hips and thus indicate that it's time to stop their heroic efforts to procreate.  I guess when you're too "old" to attract the bees, you should trade the dance floor for the couch and comforter.

One of my brave roses facing the coming cold weather with grace is 'Gruss an Aachen'.  She has slowed her bloom rate, but she is still foolishly full of lacy beauty and holding up well against the night chills.  'Gruss an Aachen' , which translates as "greetings to Aachen" is a 1909 Floribunda hybridized by L. Wilhelm Hinner and  introduced by Philipp Geduldig.  She is often said, in fact, to have been the first Floribunda rose, the leader of a new race, and some would argue that all the Floribundas that have appeared in her wake are just poor imitations.  David Austin has tried to claim her as the prototype for his English roses, but I think her delicate nature just doesn't fit with many of his massive creations.

I don't have another rose in my garden with quite the the same subtle shadings of yellow, cream, white, and pink as 'Gruss an Aachen', and I treasure her beauty nearly every summer morning.  Some say that those fully double, large blooms  will bleach out a bit under sunshine, but the photograph here, taken on August 20th in the midst of a Kansas heat, is evidence to the contrary.  She is only mildly fragrant, and doesn't form hips for me (perhaps because of her rumored triploid nature).  I can see her parentage ('Frau Karl Druschki' X 'Franz Deegen') in the coloration, but I grow 'Frau Karl Druschki' and the latter is much taller and her blooms are composed of thicker petals.

Unfortunately, I never know if this lovely mistress will return each Spring in my garden.  She is not a vigorous rose (never more than 2 feet tall for me) and seems to be only marginally hardy here in my 6A or 5B climate (the latter depending on the winter).   This is the third clone of 'Gruss an Aachen' that I've tried, but I have hopes that this one will return since she is on her own feet (my previous girls were grafted) and has already survived a tough recent winter.  'Gruss an Aachen' does get some blackspot here, but other than thinning out her lower leaves, she seems to put up with a little fungus quite well.  Between the blackspot and the weak necks that keep her blooms shyly presented, she is not a garden show horse for me, but she regularly graces the kitchen table, and she will continue to have a place in my garden as long as a few of those blooms make it inside.


  1. Thank you for the mention, Professor, and my Lincolnshire roses are continuing to bloom away. 'Sexy Rexy' (ridiculously named !) and Bonica are the most floriferous .
    I have just had my first season with 'Gruss an Aachen' , which I put in as a bareroot in the spring. After a promising start, growth slowed considerably and blooms were few. Does she need time to get established before flowering well, do you think? Also, is she tolerant of a little shade, or a full sun girl ?

  2. Yes, I agree with you Jane. Many of our roses in the garden at Sissinghurst are still blooming especially 'Ispahan' which doesn't seem to realise that it's now November! But it's nice to look at. Helen


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