‘Altissimo’ was flowering early this season – and that’s when I first wrote about this distinctive rose. The trick is that ‘Altissimo’ never stopped blooming. When selecting roses for the local farmer’s market, I had a hard time not bringing this rose every week. The individual flowers don’t last too long, but the rose reblooms so quickly and consistently, I always had one in bloom. Here it is in early September with fresh flowers still coming. This is in a 1 gallon pot – once established in the landscape, it’s even more floriferous. Feed it well, and clip off spent flowers regularly for best performance.
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.
One of the great things about this species rose is that it’s attractive for more than one feature. The rose goes by more than one species name, the other common one being Rosa rubrifolia. Sometimes the latin name will reveal something about the plant, and in these two names, there’s a bit of a contradiction: glauca means grey, and rubrifolia means red-leaved. Both are sort of right, and both are sort of wrong. The leaves are green, and yes, there’s a matte grey or blue tinge to them, but there’s also a red or purple tint in the veins and stems. Okay then… that makes the leaves greenish, bluish, greyish, purplish, reddish and then usually yellowish before they drop. That’s a lot of color!
The flowers are attractive, but small and simple. They have five petals, which are darker pink towards the edges and lighter towards the center, where they give way to the prominent yellow stamens. When the flowers are finished their early-season display, the plant goes to work on setting a large crop of red hips, which can decorate the plant well into the winter.
Depending on how and where you grow it, Rosa glauca can be a 4 foot shrub, or grow to as high as 10 feet. It will grow happily in part shade, and like most species roses, will accept less than perfect soil conditions. I sell it in a 1 gallon pot for $10.
You know this rose, even if you don’t know that you know this rose. ‘Bonica’ is so widely planted by landscapers that you’ll see a light pink rose at a strip mall or gas station, my first bet would be ‘Bonica’. I grow it because it’s a great garden rose, but I did pause in propagating it. Why should I offer it, I wondered, when it’s already out there in great numbers? Am I really adding to the diversity of roses available to local customers. No, not really. But I go back to my previous point: I grow it because it’s a great garden rose. If someone comes to me looking for a reliable pink landscape rose, I might offer them ‘Ballerina‘ or ‘Belinda’ first, but if they like ‘Bonica’ better, they’ve picked a winner nonetheless.
‘Bonica’ will bloom softer or deeper pink depending on the weather. Every bit the landscape shrub, this rose is adaptable to any situation. Leave to grow freely, and you’ll get a wide graceful shrub to about 4 feet tall and wide. If you want it for a smaller garden, you can control it with pruning, and it won’t harm the performance of the shrub.
Disease resistant, vigorous, free blooming, well-behaved – no wonder the landscapers like it. We sell it in 1 gallon pots for $10 and 2 gallon pots for $15.
I was meeting with a bunch of “rose people” (which, by the way, wasn’t nearly as lame as that sounds) and I mentioned my soft spot for yellow roses. One of the guys there practically insisted that I try ‘Laura Ford’. Thanks, Bill. It was well worth tracking this rose down.
It’s not quite a class of its own, but it’s definitely in rare company. ‘Laura Ford’ is a climbing miniature rose. Jumbo shrimp, anyone? Yes, it seems a little contradictory to say a rose that can climb to 12 feet high and dominate a wall is a miniature rose. The answer to the contradiction is in the breeding. Most miniatures were bred, or at least influenced by a small group of hybridizers, who used Chinese roses to make a tough, repeat-repeat blooming rose with small flowers. Any rose that descends from these genes can be called a miniature – and ‘Lara Ford’ does have fairly small individual blooms. However, when this rose blooms, it often covers its canes with clusters of these perfectly-formed yellow flowers, which sometimes show a pink edge as they fade.
In addition, ‘Laura Ford’ has a good scent to its blooms, and it is one of the healthiest roses in my garden.
I sell ‘Laura Ford’ in 1 gallon pots for $10, and 2 gallon for $15.
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.
This 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.
Do you like your roses subtle and graceful? This isn’t one of those. ‘Altissimo’ pounds out a big red exclamation point every time it blooms, and that’s often. It’s late October as I write this post, and ‘Altissimo’ is happily blooming away in the greenhouse.
How do I sell you a rose like this one? It’s so different. Have a look:
Did I say that it’s not graceful? That’s not true. The flowers are huge and loud individually, but they’re in scale with the plant, which is large and fast growing – a climber usually, but can also be left free-standing as an upright shrub. Look how healthy the leaves are in this picture. That’s typical of this rose. ‘Altissimo’ is one of the few roses in my greenhouse that I rarely see troubled by anything but aphids.
It’s distinctive, and totally worth putting into the garden as a trouble-free climber or shrub.