Saved from the chop

We have all done it: threatened a disappointing plant with the spade. Perhaps it has not flowered or it has grown poorly. We give it time, some extra love and all it does is sneer or sulk. And then we threaten. And more often than not it makes just that extra bit of effort and blooms, or grows, or fruits. It happens so regularly that you could swear that the plants understand every word! Or is it that, as gardeners, we have extreme patience and know that things are about to change?

Anyway, rose ‘Agnes’ went in about four years ago, with most of the other roses. It bloomed the first year and then, for subsequent years it failed to bloom. ‘Agnes’ is a Rosa rugosa hybrid registered in 1902 and introduced in 1922. It was bred by William Saunders of Ottawa, Canada. He was born in England but emigrated to Canada where he was instrumental in setting up a research station to breed new fruit, and roses, able to cope with the harsh climate. He retired in 1911 and died in 1914.

‘Agnes’ has pale yellow flowers, something odd for a Rugosa rose. After the first year of flowers it has not bloomed again. It makes new growth but it never really fully develops and the flower buds develop half way, turn red and drop off. The foliage looks as though it is severely affected by mildew, and perhaps that is what is killing the flowers. It is not crowded nor in a really bad spot and ‘Schneezwerg’ a white rugosa, just a couple of metres away, is fine. I chose quite a few rugosa hybrids because they are generally easy to grow so ‘Agnes’ has given me a bit of a wake up call.

A rugosa rose with mildew is a rare thing. So why? Well it seems that one of the parents was Rosa foetida var persiana, the rose that brought yellow and orange shades to HT roses, along with a propensity for blackspot. So this must be what has brought the weakness to this rose.

This spring I gave it a bit of a thin and light prune and gave it a feed, along with the other roses. And it looks happier. And some flowers have opened.

The flowers are soft, butter yellow, fading as they mature and are sweetly fragrant. The fragrance is often described as ‘light’ but it seems OK to me. But without flowers this rose has little to commend it, unless you want it as a barrier. Like most rugosas, the stems are covered in bristly, sharp spines, and it is not a plant you want to pick a fight with.

But, for now, all is well, and I am enjoying the blooms.


4 Comments on “Saved from the chop”

  1. Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes
    May 19, 2023 at 8:52 am #

    Well worth the wait, and the threat, I’d say…

  2. Paddy Tobin
    May 19, 2023 at 10:01 am #

    That’s certainly an unusual colour in a rugosa. Very nice though.

  3. tonytomeo
    May 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm #

    Heck, much of what inhabits my garden and the landscapes at work was removed from other gardens for unsatisfactory performance or simply because someone did not want it.

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