Plant of the week – Rose ‘The Fairy’

Rose ‘The Fairy’

 

'The Fairy' still looking great in early December

‘The Fairy’ still looking great in early December

It may seem an odd choice for a plant of the week in December but as this rose is still adding a lot of colour to the garden as I write it seems appropriate to sing the praises of one of my favourite roses.

We go back a long way, though not as far back as the introduction of this pretty rose which was in 1932. I have planted this in quantity twice now. The first time was at Myddelton House where I planted it as standards. It makes a great standard rose – far better than most floribundas and Hybrid Teas (Cluster flowered and large flowered) that nearly always look gawky and increasingly hideous as they age. The low, almost ground-covering habit of ‘The Fairy’ makes it an elegant standard as it develops a cascading habit.

Despite its age, this is a rose with a modern attitude that can hold its own against the best of the new. That’s why, in this new rose garden of more than 400 roses, most of which are modern, it was chosen as the edging for half the beds with 36 planted.

It usually grows to about 60cm high and almost 1metre across. It produces arching stems that end in a large cluster of small, double, pink flowers. The leaves are healthy and rarely get disease and it flowers and flowers and flowers! There is no real scent to speak of but I will defend any rose against criticism if the other boxes are ticked. So while I agree that a perfumed rose is a treasure, if you regard this as a hardy, trouble-free shrub that blooms for 7 months a year then it certainly pays its way in the garden.

 

Also looking good

It is only fair to mention the other rose I have used for edging. ‘Magic Carpet’ was introduced in 1993 and was the UK Rose of the Year in 1996. It is a similar size to ‘The Fairy’ but has a lower and more rambling habit. The deep mauve-pink flowers are only semi double and are held in loose, small clusters.

'Magic Carpet' with intense colour and purple foliage after frost

‘Magic Carpet’ with intense colour and purple foliage after frost

They have a light perfume but you need to get on your knees and risk getting a prickle up your nose to appreciate that. It is still going strong in December and the flowers seem to be deeper pink than in summer, a feature highlighted by the foliage that has taken on a burnished purple coloration. I am looking forward to seeing the plants put on a proper display next tear, in their second year.

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