This is usually the first rose to bloom in my garden, sending out multiple buds in February, and when they are open on the cool spring mornings, the fragrance is unbelievable. Soft and powdery at first, yet rich with complex spicy notes. Some roses just give away their beauty at first glance, but in every sense this rose has layers of beauty and sensuality.
I spent the late afternoon with my nose stuck in in one of its thick blooms. Like all intoxicating fragrances, it brings up memories. The first is my grandmother’s hand lotion. This is the scent that I think of when I think of rose fragrance. Read more
This is a beautiful Polyantha rose, a group of roses with petite blossoms and form. Although not quite miniature roses, they are quite different than your average rose shrub. (As if roses are anything average!) Other famous Polyanthas include Cecile Brunner, Marie Pavie and her sister Marie Daly, Pinkie and The Fairy. While most of the time they are diminutive in form, barely reaching above three or four feet, many of them have been developed as climbing sports; Cecile Brunner’s climbing variety tends to be more popular than its original compact shrub. Read more
My one-year-old Duchesse de Brabant is bound to become my favorite rose. I have only seen about five blooms total on it but it is just one of those promises of greatness. Already it grows in a shape that I like, tall but elegantly loose. Unlike Hybrid Teas or my favorite David Austin “Heritage” rose, it is not stiff, nor are the blooms upright cups. It is not slouchy, though. I guess I would describe it the way a bias-cut silk dress fits, shaped but draping and billowing when it needs to. Read more
Normally, I like very full, cupped large flowers in roses, but I decided to add this one after researching Hybrid Musks that grow well in Texas, and seeing picture after picture of its ridiculously lush effect. The small flowers are barely bigger than a quarter, but in large sprays that cover this bush, which can get up to six-feet wide. It can become quite an enormous bush, even climbing into trees if one allows it, cascading branches falling over each other and covered with hundreds of small, giddy pastel pink flowers.
I suspect that I’ve planted it too close to another bush, but in my new butterfly gardenette, I’m going for a massed effect. This area was once a thicket of chinaberry trees, a hackberry and very old messy tree-sized privets. It was all removed during our garden construction and left me with a large area that gets full sun all summer–the only area like this in my garden. My first thought was–butterfly garden! Ballerina joins Felicia and Duchesse de Brabant and a host of butterfly-host and nectar plants in this bed. Read more
Last fall I picked a special day just to look for roses. I had built up to this moment for a few weeks–the revelation that I could grow roses came as a little surprise because up till this point I was obsessed with small plants, seeds and mostly native things. Roses were just so… rose. I had no idea what to look for, but knew I was on a trip not just to buy plants but something of a long-term investment–kind of like buying a formal dress. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the choices and kept coming back to this rose. I liked the soft pink, so delicate. At the time I bought the plant, the petals were flat and lose and looked “open face” almost like apple blossoms.
I am slowly building a rose bed that stretches across the side of our house. It was covered in Lantana, which is cute but smells funny when you cut it and just looks straggly in the middle of summer.
Right next to each other I have my relationships. A French rose, an English rose, and an American rose. They all look like their origins and have much to say about them. I won’t draw the metaphor out too much but I absolutely love this rose. It’s a David Austin rose, which means in rose lexicon “English rose”. It also means hardy rose, rose that is capable of much fragrance and tough circumstances like many antique roses.
I do think my English friends are that way. They are grounded in older things, have toughed out more; most friends my age had parents who lived through rations. And yet they stay so cheery, and rarely complain. There’s a certain propriety, which at times they sometimes mock themselves for, but I think it’s beautiful. Just like this rose–it’s a not-quite-peach not-quite-pink shell pink and just a perfect form, each petal lined up so neatly. There’s a primness yet a great big rosiness about it.
It’s also the tallest of the 3 and the most upright (I will get to my thoughts on the crazy sprawling ever-blooming American rose and the finicky but absolutely decadent French rose later). And the smell–like light cinnamon and spice. Not to say it is the only representative but I chose them to be. I’m already planning space for one or two more of this particular bush.
All my roses are still small so I can’t report on their regularity but so far I have to make this one my favorite because I love to just sit and stare at it. Doesn’t that make it all worthwhile?
As my English friends always say, “you’re just gorgeous!” Meaning, in every way.