Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Single Roses

Single roses appeared constantly among the seedlings rowed out for testing in rose breeding programs, and just as regularly they were discarded. Despite their often exquisite appearance, they did not conform to the idea of a 'modern' rose, high pointed, large and fully double. We lost so many, dumped ignominiously for their wild looks. It is true that in formal rose beds from the 1860s onward, they looked totally wrong beside tall cabbage-headed Hybrid Perpetual roses and the emerging Hybrid Tea class. It was not until the idea of roses as shrubs to be used like camellias or lilacs was popularised that they found their way more frequently into gardens. They are also perfect choices for cottage gardens with their innocent looks. and many such as Mrs Oakley Fisher, Dainty Bess, Golden Wings and White Wings are rarely out of flower from mid spring to the end of autumn.

Single roses, like the exquisite very repeat flowering 'Wildflower' bred by David Austin (above), often resemble porcelain roses and seem as delicate as butterfly wings. Despite the carnage in rose breeders' experimental beds for a century and a half, some single flowered new seedlings touched the heart to such a degree that they were saved. Their continued survival, sometimes for more than a century on the world's rose lists, prove not only their charms but their toughness. These are a few of my own favourites:

Climbing Roses
Mermaid (1917) This is a hybrid of the Macartney Rose of Chia, a climber to 9m,  in bloom for many months with quantities of very large clear golden yellow single blooms each with a boss of golden-brown stamens. Mrs Richard Turnbull, bred by Alister Clark in Victoria, is in the same style, constantly re-flowers in the season and is a pure creamy white. 
The Cherokee Rose or Laevigata This vigorous climber was discovered in China and is exquisite in bloom with huge pure creamy white flowers of great substance with a boss of yellow stamens. It is deliciously scented of rose and carnation. Once flowering.
Francis E. Lester This once flowering Musk Hybrid climber is a glorios sight in full flower, with huge terminal panicles of small, single, milk white flowers blushed with pink, resembling apple blossom. The intense fragrance is of bananas and oranges. It is very healthy and grows to around 3.5-4.0 m. The flowers are followed by large sprays of tiny deep apricot heps that are perfect for posies and flower arrangements.
Wedding Day Bred by Sir William Stern at 'Highdown'  in Sussex, this variety is perfectly named. It is a very healthy moderate to larger climber, once flowering, with huge dense trusses of pure white small single flowers richly fragrant of oranges.
Filipes 'Kiftsgate' is only suited to large and country gardens. This world famous rose was raised in the beautiful garden of 'Kiftsgate' (located across the road from 'Hidcote', another famous English garden.) It easily climb into trees forming a spectacular waterfall of single superbly fragrant white single flowers followed by thousands of tiny heps.
Himalayan Musk Rose Another rose strictly for larger and country gardens, free standing like a clump of bamboo with arching branches and drooping, almost willow-like grey-green foliage and huge trusses of delicate, milky-white, small roses intensely fragrant of sweet pure musk (which bears no relationship to those choking, hayfever-inducing cheap 'musk' perfumes).
Gigantea This gorgeous Burmese and southern Chinese rose was introduced into Europe in 1888. The saucer-like very large single flowers are cream and very fragrant. They are followed by huge edible pear-shaped orange heps (which are sold as fruit in Indian markets). It repeat flowers lightly after its first luscious early summer flowering and can reach 10 m making it ideal for larger pergolas.
Altissimo There is no hiding this flaming beauty with large crisp single blooms of clear rich red and golden stamens. It is one of those happy-hearted roses, perfect for climbing over the garden gate or wreathing around an entrance or verandah.
Climbing 'Meg' This stunning old rose bears large pale pink single blooms in abundance throughout the season, spreading a sweet old-fashioned fragrance.
Gwen Nash bred by Alister Clark in Victoria, this glorious climber bred from Gigantea has a profusion of large exquisite mid pink flowers with waved petals and a delightful sweet fragrance.
Nancy Hayward This famous old climbing rose bred by Alister Clark in 1937 is breath-takingly elegant. It bears profuse huge fragrant single flowers of glowing tomato red with gold stamens and constantly r-flowers.

Bush and Shrub Single Roses
Golden Wings This is simply one of the most beautiful roses ever bred and fortunately was appreciated. It is a repeat flowering hybrid forming a neat shrub withvery large flowers which are lemon yellow suffused with golden yellow with a boss of rich deep gold stamens and a sweet wild rose fragrance.
Lord Penzance An all-time favourite, bred from the Eglantine Rose, the wild rose of England, by Lord Penzance of Goldalming in Surrey. The foliage is intensely scented of fresh green apples while the profuse pale to deeper lemon single blossoms are faintly blushed with pink and have a wild sweet rose fragrance.
Dupontii syn. Rosa moschata nivea  Bred in 1817 and named after the head gardener Andre Dupont for the Empress Josephine at Malmaison near Paris, this glorious rose smothers in large single milky white perfect blooms which shade to gold in the heart and have a richfragrance of ripe bananas.Many rate it the finest shrub rose ever bred, despite the magnificent display lasting only 4-6 weeks a year. It was bred from a cross between the Damask rose and the True Musk Rose R. moschata.
Sally This stunning shrub rose bears small clusters of deliciously fragrant, large white flowers unfolding from elegant apricot buds. Repeat flowering. It forms a spreading shrub to around 1.5m x 1.5m.
Dainty Bess Bred in 1925, this is one of the most loved single hybrid tea roses with a profusion of large single clear light pink flowers with wine red stamens. It is constantly in flower throughout its long season, and is vigorous and healthy.
White Wings This exquisite single old hybrid tea rose is one of the most elegant roses ever bred with medium to large, airy, purest white flowered roses and a delicate delicious scent. Like Dainty Bess, it is particularly sturdy.
Mrs Oakley Fisher Bred by Cant in 1921, this is now one of the most sought after old roses, a gorgeous single Hybrid Tea in pure silken apricot with a delicious fresh scent. The new growth is a rich crimson. Simply beautiful. 
Mutabilis syn. Tipo Ideale Although this rose from China was introduced into European cultivation in 1896, it is thought to be very much older. It is unique and remarkable, forming over the years a large shrub. It is never out of flower other than in mid-winter, smothering in airy panicles of large single flowers that open from deep apricot, slenderly furled buds to cream, then apricot, coppery pink and finally crimson so that the bush seems to be covered with multi-coloured hovering butterflies.
Fruhlingsmorgen A gorgeous shrub rose from the 1930s. The arching canes bear a profusion of large single pale pink flowers, each with a cluster of deepest crimson stamens. Fruhlingsgold is its near twin with very fragrant large pale golden single blooms.
Bloomfield Dainty and Irish Elegance are also well worth including in the garden.

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Happy meandering and gardening,  Judyth McLeod

  © Judyth McLeod