Tuesday, June 11, 2019


Mystery free rose
ProfessorRoush has been waiting patiently for several years to identify a rose that has struggled in my garden; trampled by deer, dehydrated by drought, and encroached upon by neighboring plants (including an overbearing 'Applejack' in the vicinity), it has nonetheless survived.  Before this year, this year of over-rain, she has never bloomed, growing slowly from a seedling that I protected to the current bush, about 2.5 feet tall and as wide.  Now, I ask you, what is she?

I've looked at my obviously lousy records for clues to her provenance, and there have been several roses planted in this area, mail-order rooted cuttings, in the past 10 years.  Some grew well for a season or two and then faded, or succumbed to RRD.  For instance, 'Amiga Mia' was to the left and forefront of this plant in the bed, and I well remember "my friend" and her loss to RRD.  I had hopes that this was the Buck rose 'Countryman', but now, upon seeing the first blooms, I can now eliminate that rose, a much deeper pink than my current demure blushing bush.   Similarly, 'Frontier Twirl', 'Aunt Honey', and 'Enchanted Autumn' have been in this general vicinity, do not match this rose in bloom or behavior, and all have moved on to another higher gardening dimension.

Because this rose has never bloomed before, I have concluded that it must be a non-remonant rose, since I haven't seen her try to bloom before, likely an Old Garden Rose, perhaps an Alba or even a very shy Bourbon?  The foliage, closely examined, is moderately shiny and glossy, not like a Damask or Gallica, and it is reasonably healthy, with little or no blackspot despite all the rain.  The blooms are very double, light pink, fading to cream on the outside, and they almost recurve with a button eye.  Thorns are sparse, small, and curved down on the stem. The round buds did brown up and deform like 'Maiden's Blush' often does in my garden in a wet year.  The fragrance is strong and sweet with no tea overtones .

Sadly, I think the solution to this particular mystery lies in a rose band I planted in 2011, obtained as a "free rose" from Rogue Valley Roses.  RVR used to provide a free extra rose or two with their orders, depending on the size of an order, unsaleable roses that they had mislabeled or managed to lose the label or overstocked roses they had on hand.  Usually they would pick a rose for you that would survive well in that customer's particular hardiness zone.  My notes show that my free rose that year was planted in this area, and although 8 years seems a long time to have this struggle in my garden, I really can't remember how long this particular plant has been here. So, if it was my "free rose," I probably never will know exactly who this rose is.

Still, it has a beautiful bloom, relatively healthy foliage, and seems to be resistant to RRD, so I'm hardly in a position to really care about calling it by its given name.  I'll just christen it "Pink-maybe-Alba" and enjoy the show when I can.

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