Category: Hybrid Spinosissima

The Scots Rose

The earliest group of roses to bloom in my landscape are the Scots roses and their close relatives. For those who are not familiar with this group of roses, they deserve a formal introduction – but maybe skip the handshake on account of the thorniness.

The species rose that they are all related to is Rosa spinosissima. Native to the British isles, northern and western Europe, and western Asia, it’s picked up a few other names from the people who live around it. I know it as the Scots rose, Burnet rose, or the Scotch Briar rose. It’s noted for growing in sandy or rocky places, usually near water. It is very tolerant of drought, shade and cold winters – making it quite a useful rose in the landscape. The Scots rose flowers in white, with prominent yellow stamens for a period of around 3 weeks starting in May (here… maybe earlier in warmer climates).

The ornamental features of this rose doesn’t end with the flowers – that would be quite a let-down, given how early in the season it finishes blooming. The Scots rose also has finely divided leaves (up to 11 small leaflets on a leaf), which are also a deep green color and have toothed edges. The foliage makes for quite a fine textured shrub compared to most modern hybrid roses. The other really cool ornamental feature is the fruit, or hips. The fruit swells and ripens through green, red, brown, and finally to a striking black. The cut branches with black hips make for interesting winter decor.

As much as I appreciate the species roses itself, what I really find exciting is that breeders have been able to use the genetics of the Scots rose to hybridize these excellent landscape characteristics into shrubs with diverse flower forms. Here are some examples:

Above: ‘Suzanne’. Soft pink. I think in the video I called it an Erskine rose, but it’s actually Skinner.

Below: Austrian Copper – not a Scots rose, but a genetic relative with some similar characteristics.

Above: ‘Betty Will’

Below: ‘Prairie Peace’ I can’t stop taking pictures of this rose when it looks like this!

Rosa spinosissima

This tough little species rose has the honor of being the first species in my greenhouse this year to put in a full flush of flowers. Sure, there’s the odd rose that has thrown a flower bud or two, but the Scotch Briar beats them out by filling its branches with flowers and buds. Here it is:

This rose, like many others that have been cultivated for centuries in gardens, has accumulated a few names: Pimpernell Rose, Scots Rose, Burnet Rose amongst others. (See more on rose naming here)

As I grow more roses, I learn to appreciate them for their differences. Unlike the red, soft, fleshy new leaves of a Hybrid Tea, the Scotch Briar grows tiny dark green leaves with 7 to 9 leaflets with finely cut edges, giving it a very different texture in the garden. The stems are dark brown, and the hips, when they set, are a very attractive and distinctive flat black.

Low growing, disease resistant, and drought tolerant, the Scotch Briar is very much a landscaper’s shrub. No wonder its genes have been used in such garden classics as Stanwell Perpetual, and in the breeding of hardy roses like the ones bred by Agriculture Canada.

We offer this rose in 1 gallon pots for $10.


Stanwell Perpetual

I don’t have a great nose for scent in roses, but when my timing is right, I can find a good Damask scent in ‘Stanwell Perpetual’. If you don’t know the scent I’m talking about, it’s what you’d smell in a perfume made with rose oil, which is harvested and distilled from Damask roses. As insensitive as my nose may be, I can tell you this: not every rose has this same scent. Some people describe the other rose fragrances as fruity, as spicy, or compare them to tea or cloves or licorice. I can’t really get all that specific myself, but I can pick out the scent of a Damask rose in this one just fine.

‘Stanwell Perpetual’ is a chance seedling from a garden, so the actual breeding would be a guess, but it most closely resembles the Scots rose, Rosa spinosissima. I do also grow the species, and they look alike most respects, but the flowers in ‘Stanwell’ are larger, fuller, scented, and instead of setting hips, ‘Stanwell’ repeats bloom later in the season.

Stanwell PerpetualThis is the rose in a 1 gallon pot. This picture is taken after the soft pink of the largest bloom has faded to a creamy white, but I do like the way this picture shows off the foliage and abundant buds. The habit of the rose is low growing, and because of its toughness, ‘Stanwell’ is great for putting on a sunny bank, or even in a more shaded location. It will, of course, do better in a more pampered location, but if you need a rose for a challenging location, you could hardly do better than this one.