Coming up roses

The roses are a bit like the curate’s egg this year – good in parts. The Hybrid Tea (most of mine are old varieties so I will stick with the classification they were originally given) and Cluster-flowered kinds roses found the cold April unkind. It is partly my fault because, being old, they have a lot of ‘Tea’ and ‘China’ sap in them and dislike cold. But, after a very slow start they are making progress.

In contrast, some of the ‘shrub’ roses are doing well this year. Most flower on older wood so they take a two years to get into the swing of flowering. Of course, most have a short flowering season and the flowers are not as big as other roses. My roses are now in their third year so I would expect a decent display this year. I wanted flowers last year too but the dry spring really affected the display. Rosa moyesii ‘Sealing Wax’ (above) produced buds last year but none opened because the plants were so dry – it was extraordinary. Later rains did allow good growth and it is this that is now covered in bloom.

This is a dual purpose shrub and the flowers are lovely, though unscented. They are followed by red hips which are probably the main reason it is grown. This is less common than ‘Geranium’ which has lovely, rich red flowers with showy stamens. Both are seedlings raised at Wisley (‘Geranium’ pre. 1937) and the species was discovered in west Szechwan in the late 19th century and the plant introduced to the West by Wilson in 1903 and again in 1911. The species usually has pink, rather than red flowers in the wild. It was named after ‘Chinese’ missionary, Rev. J Moyes.

With a mature height in excess of 3m, this is not a plant for the tiniest garden, partly because it is thorny too, but it is a lovely thing and the flowers, though scentless, are a big hit with the bees.

Another odd rose is R. roxburghii. This is one of those strange plants, usually from China and Japan, that were cultivated and developed for so long before the West discovered them, that the first introductions were double-flowered (like Kerria). As such, the single-flowered, ‘wild’ form, which I have, is strictly f. normalis because the ‘ordinary’ species has double flowers. I am sure it is lovely but I wanted the single flowers.

If you consider this as a rose it is a slightly odd thing – and a bit of a let down. The flowers, though beautifully coloured and quite large, are rather hidden in the foliage and they don’t last long, though they so open sporadically here and there. But as a shrub I find it really satisfactory. The habit is really well branched and rather stiff in a tough, muscular kind of way. As it matures it has peeling bark too and plants can reach 3m high. The leaves are divided into small leaflets and the hips, which remain largely green, are covered in lots of small spines, leading to the name of chestnut rose.

It was first introduced to the West from China via Calcutta (sic) Botanic Garden as the double form and later, as the single form, from Japan in about 1881. Later it was introduced from China in the single form and in 1981 its seeds were collected and introduced from west Szechwan by Roy Lancaster.

The flowers are supposed to be highly fragrant but I cannot detect any perfume at all. Even so, I like the plant for its all-round appeal.

Spot the difference

On an unrelated topic, and as a warning to those in the UK or those wanting to send floral gifts to anyone in the UK, a story of an order with Flying Flowers. I have used them several times, never with complete satisfaction, but the flowers were just about OK.

So when I sent an order last week to my aunt for her 80th birthday I expected this – as illustrated on their website

copyright Flying Flowers

So I was a little surprised when I got a thank you from my aunt with this photo

And it did not come with the mini bottle of wine and chocs that were ordered.

If you want your loved ones and friends to think you are as generous as Scrooge then go ahead and order from Flying Flowers.

I have made a complaint but..

, , ,

4 Comments on “Coming up roses”

  1. tonytomeo
    June 18, 2021 at 3:33 am #

    I still prefer the hybrid tea roses, and always will. They are the first roses I learned to work with, and are still the best for cutting (for floral design that was fashionable back when hybrid tea roses were popular). Unfortunately, no one wants to prune them as aggressively as they should be pruned through winter.

    • thebikinggardener
      June 18, 2021 at 8:32 am #

      It is true that they need a hard prune and people tend to be afraid to tackle them. I remember the mantra, I believe from the late Pecy Thrower of ‘if in doubt, cut it out’.

      • tonytomeo
        June 22, 2021 at 1:04 am #

        Sadly, in this region, no one does their own gardening anymore. People rarely go outside, which is weird for such an excellent climate. Also sadly, there are no qualified gardeners to prune much of anything properly anymore. Such work is not sufficiently lucrative for gardeners to live here. Mow, blow and go ‘gardeners’ merely shear everything, including roses and fruit trees, with their motorized hedge shear devices. It is deplorable for a region that was formerly famous for horticultural commodities.

        • thebikinggardener
          June 22, 2021 at 5:30 pm #

          That is a pity but a sad reflection on how little horticultural knowledge and skill is valued.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener

Our garden, gardens visited, occasional thoughts and book reviews


un altro blog sul giardinaggio...


four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!


Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I'm Leah, a freelance Photographer born and raised in Macon, GA, USA. I spent 8 years in the wild west and this is my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming. Welcome to Uprooted Magnolia.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

We are working to save garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow


An English persons experience of living and gardening in Ireland

%d bloggers like this: