‘Tis the season of the rose… Many of mine are once flowering old-fashioned types, others are so tatty by the end of summer that they hardly have a leaf left. Mine is not the perfect climate for roses, and my adapt or die attitude does not make it easy for them. But after months in which I doubted the sanity of growing roses by the hundred, propagating them from seed and cuttings, owning shelves of books on them and generally being more than a little obsessive about them, I am once again overwhelmed…
Intoxicated by their scent, I am pleased I planted a dozen cutting grown Jacques Cartiers outside The Plett – a typically high-shouldered Portland which does brilliantly with me.
Despite having lost well over half the roses planted in the Anniversary Garden, it is still possible to take an impressive picture there – the deep gold is ‘South Africa’ (KORberbeni, marketed in other countries as ‘Golden Beauty’) The pale one is the David Austin rose ‘Molineaux’.
Then there are the two nameless roses I received from two favourite aunts who live 1400km apart. They are very similar, but definitely different. Both are heavily perfumed, tend to suckering and long whippy growth and are once-flowering. I would describe them as Centifolias of obvious Gallica parentage, but can do no better. Aunty Corrie, pictured above and below, is a rich fuchsia pink with a silvery sheen to the reverse of the petals, and it darkens to a lovely rich pink. In fact, the colour ‘old rose’ seems to have been invented for this rose.
Any help in identifying them will be hugely appreciated! Aunty May is a slightly smaller rose, a little paler, with narrower petals and less robust in growth, but she also darkens with age. Here she is below.
The next rose I can identify with certainty. She is Mme Ernest Carvat and was introduced to the world by the widow Schwartz in 1888 after sporting from Mme Isaac Pereire. Bourbon climbers, they are two of the most beautifully scented roses in the world. I have several of the darker pink Mme Isaac Pereires, having grown them from cuttings, but I lost my two original plants.
The next two I truly believe I grew from seed. The first I named ‘Mothertjie’, my pet name for my mom, adding the Afrikaans diminutive. It is a slightly remontant rambler and I grow it through a tree at the water lily pond. It featured in a recent post – here the photo is again.
And here the close-up – a pretty rose with textured pink on white colour and a creamy-yellow towards the centre.
The other seed raised rose intrigues me no end – especially as I can only assume it was seed-raised. It looks as though it will be a tall many stemmed shrub, although it might prefer to be a climber; it has reddish pink flowers and the new growth is beautifully dark. I will be watching it carefully for it might be a winner.
‘Penelope’ possibly the best of the Pemberton Musk roses, is another I have raised successfully from cuttings. Then I decided some years ago to plant The Mothers’ Garden with only ‘Penelope’ – and over two years struck not one cutting successfully! So now we have other plans there.
Growing away lustily in the New Old Rose Garden (read more here if you want to know how we came to move the roses) is Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’ – in fact I wish a few more of these roses would grow as well… this is their first full summer in their new site and we lost several more roses over winter, as well as seen several to be slow to get going after the winter.
Lastly we have one of the great curiosities of the rose world: Rosa moschata, the Musk Rose or Common Moss Rose, growing alongside Freddie’s Dam. Those are not thorns on the bud, but glands which when stroked release a musk-like fragrance. The flowers are beautifully and typically scented though.
Whilst in Johannesburg we spent many happy hours in my cousin’s garden where there are more beautiful and interesting roses than I’ve seen anywhere in South Africa. When we left she gave us 6 roses waiting to be planted. And when Louis refused to let me buy petrol I bought him 3 more at Ludwig’s. A double bargain for me, I’d say! Here they await planting, which happened today.
Oh – and I bought Rosa rubrifolia (syn R. glauca) for myself, having managed to get one I raised from imported seed to not die over 15 years… and I bought my cousin one too, as well as a Cardinal Hume which I consider to be one of the loveliest of roses. Rosa rubrifolia is my all-time favourite foliage plant – it stands in the foreground with its steel-blue leaves and wine-red stems and young growth.
This photo of the Ellensgate Garden with the mauve-pink rambler on the opposite side – another of my mystery plants – somehow didn’t make it into the story. And lastly, my little storm story. I add it in sympathy for the millions who suffered under Sandy, not just at the time, but who face the heart- and back-breaking task of clearing up… we lost just two major branches off one of our oldest trees in a storm earlier this week and it was a mission to clear. How much worse is the process for all these people!