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.
Ballerina is a Hybrid Musk rose, first introduced in 1937. Hybrid Musks are a class of roses which were first introduced in the early 1900s, and many of the most treasured ones were introduced in England by Reverend Joseph Pemberton (“Ballerina” is thought to have been bred by Pemberton but introduced after his death by his successor). They are large rose shrubs with a mostly loose form, and many have sprays of flowers or “panicles” rather than a single bud on a stem. Hybrid musks are often recommended for Texas for their grace and health in hot and humid climates, and if left to grow can be trained as small climbers or ramblers.
Along with Teas, another recommended class of roses for Texas, Hybrid Musks are sensitive to pruning in the early years of their life. In my first year of growing roses, I mistakenly pruned them all by a third, regardless of what type they were, and got rid of gangly shoots that were longer than others. I’m young at this, but the more you get into roses, the more you learn how each one is different. I later learned that the gangly shoot-thing is a common habit of Hybrid Musks, and eventually their canes will catch up to each other. Many rose experts suggest pruning them very lightly if at all in the first 2 or 3 years.
In Perennials Gardens for Texas, one of my favorite gardening books, there is a great chapter on growing and caring for old roses. Kay Ryan writes, “Hybrid Musks and Teas seem to be exceptions to general pruning practice. Even in the first year, merely tip-pruning Hybrid Musks and species while in active growth can cause them to throw stout canes at awkward angles.”
I am growing 3 other Hybrid Musks around my garden, two Felicias and a Buff Beauty, and while very different from each other, I’m trying to practice patience for a couple years, and let them get used to their place in the garden until I try and use pruners on them.
Other descriptions of Ballerina: