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
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..