Roses divide opinion. Many people dislike them because of the work they entail, something I address in my column in The Sunday Times* tomorrow. But even among those that like them, there are deeply entrenched opinions about what a rose should be like. Some only like the really old ones that bloom just once but often (though certainly not always) have a strong scent. It was to drag these roses, and their fanciers, screaming into the present day that David Austin created his English roses, to prove that you didn’t have to put up with blackspot and a short season to get charming flowers and scent.
These people probably reach for the smelling salts (or get their servants to fetch them) when they think about Hybrid Teas with their large flowers and (often) angular upright growth. But HTs (more properly Large-flowered now) are varied and though I don’t like them all, I have planted some in my new garden.
Now being a bit of a ‘smelling salt’ plant snob some of these are old single HTs with just five petals – they couldn’t possibly be described as vulgar and I will try to convince you with photos when they open. But I have others that are more ‘traditional’ including Twice in a Blue Moon which has the much-desired high centre and recurved outer, guard petals to create show-winning shape.
And what of scent? Hence this rose. It is Special Anniversary ‘Whastiluc’, a rose we featured on the Springmount Garden Centre stand at Bloom last year. We popped it on the corner where everyone could smell it and we sold out in a day. Anyone who thinks that modern roses have no smell should plant this. It has large, glossy, dark green leaves and large flowers that have a powerful and wonderful smell. It has been planted in the garden at work since spring and is so far showing good resistance to disease. It was bred in the UK by an amateur, Edward Smith, who died in 2008 and was introduced Whartons Nurseries in 2003 as Special Anniversary, a name that should ensure it sells well.
If you want a large rose with an enticing scent I would recommend this to you.
And how many do I have in my own garden?
Well none and nor will I have. Apart from not liking the colour I dislike the flower shape. The buds are fine but when they open they look like butterhead lettuces with floppy petals. I know I am being a little unfair but with so many lovely and interesting roses we can all choose the ones we like best.
* Irish Sunday Times