Rose Boom

Thérèse Bugnet

Thérèse Bugnet

It’s time for roses! Finally the season has started and my 2 year old roses are stating their presence in the garden. Last year plants were still to small to be showy and some of them didn’t bloom at all since they need some old wood to set flowers. In the picture above you can see Thérèse Bugnet, a once blooming hybrid rugosa, the scent is very strong, reminiscent of clover and sweet lemonade, quite typical of the rugosa type.

Rival de Paestum

Rival de Paestum

Rival de Paestum is at one corner of the gravel garden, not far from the pergola and the plaster water tank, the bush is still rather small because she is putting all her strength in flowering. In fact this rose is always blooming and the hottest it gets the happiest she is. Flowers are white blend, nodding, elegant in bud and kind of disheveled when in full bloom but this is so typical of the china/tea roses. Scent in china roses is not really a strong feature, they all smell the same and the scent is usually described as ‘tea fragrance‘ but to me they smell of greenery, and the scent isn’t even strong; this is the reason why I have neglected china roses for ages: scent is so important to me in a rose. However in this garden I needed something that could really bear strong heat and drought and that could possibly bloom more than once and china roses are the best choice. I now love them.

Parks' Yellow Tea-scented China

Parks’ Yellow Tea-scented China

Another china rose in bloom now is Parks’ Yellow Tea-scented China, or should I say in commerce as, since the original one (aka rosa indica ochroleuca, more info here) is considered extinct before the end of 1800. So the one you see pictured above is actually a hoax introduces by Peter Beales some 30 years ago. However the original one is believed to be one of the ancestors of the modern roses. Mine is leaning gracefully against the walnut tree, in the hope it will cover the wretched tree soon. In the background you can also have a glance of rosa banksiae Purezza, which had already covered the first 3 meters of the old fashioned (thank God!) electricity pole. Pole in which is nailed my first attempt to make a bird nest box, do you remember? Well I am so proud to announce that a couple of great tits had nested there and they are very busy hunting bugs for their babies.

rosa banksiae Purezza and a big tit  bringing food to the nest.

rosa banksiae Purezza and a big tit bringing food to the nest.

The nest box has been there for more than one year, the rose has grown a lot creating more privacy around the nest but I also guess the birds also needed the nest to be somehow seasoned and reliable. Newer and prettier nest boxes installed on the birch trees a few months ago are still empty.

Anyway there are birds hunting bugs and bugs hunting other bugs too, can you see the white spider on the bee amongst the thyme flowers? Crazy, I was waiting for that bee to strike a pose for me on the thyme and suddenly she’s been captured by the spider: kind of disappointing, ok more for her than for me but she paid the price for celebrity!

Ormiston Roy on the left part and Agnes on the right

Ormiston Roy on the left part and Agnes on the right

At this point you may start thinking that I might have a soft spot for white and yellow blended roses… Well you may be right but also know that for some reason white and yellow roses are the early flowerer. Ormiston Roy is a hybrid spinosissima, the Scots rose, only once blooming but with a good smell and later it sets big black fat hips. The other one is Agnes, a hybrid rugosa with a strong and very peculiar scent, even the fresh leaves are scented of something like clover and incense. I love this rose.

Old Blush

Old Blush

Ok, let’s break this yellow spell with a pink rose, another china rose, another reliable bloomer, she’s so pretty but I can’t love her. Sorry. Maybe it’s because of that red tinge on the buds, maybe it’s because of that ham pink of the flowers… Hey, darling, you can’t assume everyone likes you.

There’s also something more, other than roses in bloom now. When we bought the house there was very little interesting in the garden, apart for nettles and some wild clematis, there was also an old clump of iris pallida. Iris pallida rhizomes were once used dried and powdered as an important ingredient to make perfumes (especially in Tuscany), so people thinks they are particularly scented, indeed they were used not for the scent but as a fixative. I like their scent though, they smell like rubber toys (the ones for children) (…I’ve never smelled the ones for grown-ups!). I divided that tight original clump and made 3 new big clumps that are at their top now.

iris pallida

iris pallida

One is near the crab apple trees, planted with miscanthus Cabaret, some allium Purple Sensation (that you can maybe see a little in the background) and there are also the chartreuse green foliage of a gallica rose Aimable Rouge, a deep pink coloured rose, I hope it’s going to bloom soon to complete the picture.

Another clump is near the kitchen door, planted with centranthus ruber. I love this pale blue/lilac iris paired with some deep pink/purple.

The third clump is still in a bed with knee high weeds and I won’t show you any pictures…

iris pallida and centranthus ruber

iris pallida and centranthus ruber

But let’s get back to yellow roses and to spinosissima roses too, here are two rather recent introductions:



Maigold, with a very odd sunset colour.

And Fruehlingsgold, a pale yellow one, very graceful and wild looking. Both have been bred in Germany by Kordes in the early ’50s.



Fruehlingsgold, again.

Fruehlingsgold, again.


30 thoughts on “Rose Boom

  1. What an amazing selection of roses you have Alberto, your garden must smell beautiful ! Love your Iris pallida too, I’m sure that enjoys your hot summers. Your Rosa Banksiae purezza looks really beautiful climbing round the post and bird box, no wonder the Great Tit chose to nest there, they will eat any of the creepy crawlies that might be on the rose too!

    • Oh my God! I wrote big tit instead of great tit! I have now wrote it right. Hope nobody noticed… 😉 I’m still not confident with bird’s names, especially in English. Although this mistake is really ‘me’.
      I love Purezza. It is the only reblooming hybrid banksiae and it’s slightly scented. It’s been bred in Italy at the beginning of the past century. The plant I grow is actually a cutting from a plant in my previous garden: from a 10 cm cutting to a 3 mt and counting plant in less than 3 years, it’s impressive.

  2. Enjoyed seeing your roses this morning, Alberto, and appreciated the information and lore you provided about each one. Also the Iris pallida is very attractive (although your description of its scent is even better). Happy gardening. Susie

    • Hello Susie! You finally have a name! I’m so glad to know it finally, never dare asking before because I thought you didn’t want to make it public.
      I think all the bearded irises smell like children rubber toys but this thing it’s more noticeable on iris pallida.

  3. Alberto, it all looks wonderful. I’m surprised you say that China roses don’t smell though. The perfume of Mutabilis is knocking me over every time I walk out of the door. I have an older version of Old Blush (I know that sounds strange but I’ve been told so by a rose expert so who am I to argue. Mine is similar but doesn’t have the redness in bud and smells nicely of soap. Perfume is a very personal thing; things I think smell wonderful or strong, my husband often says he can’t smell at all and vice versa. Anyway I love all your roses, Christina

    • You are right Christina, and scent and colour may vary from garden to garden or even in different parts of the same garden. I didn’t mean china roses don’t smell, I meant they have a light scent and it’s not as sweet as I would expect. Although I never ever detect any scent on mutabilis, I really have to come over and smell your mutabilis hedge by myself! 😉

  4. Your roses are amazing. Rival de Paestum is such a pretty rose. I do love the China roses, and the Tea roses don’t have much of a fragrance for me, but I honestly don’t care too much about scent. That picture of the little bird bringing food home to the family is wonderful. The rose adds such a romantic touch to the otherwise functional pole.

    • Unfortunately I have more than one pole pending on my property. I could call the phone and electricity societies and have them removed but they would dig on my property to hide cables and all the costs would be on me. Since they are all old-fashioned ones (made of timber and rather thin) I thought that covering with big roses would be a better and cheaper solution.
      I do care about scent on roses a lot but really chinas make up for it with other great features. Rival de Paestum is one of my first choices too.

  5. Hi Alberto,

    Lovely Roses; no blooms here yet but I do have buds 🙂
    I love your rose creeping around the nestbox – perhaps the birds aren’t using your other ones as they’re too hot? I don’t know how you’d sited them but I think they’re supposed to be either east or west-facing so they don’t get too hot/cold for the little chicks inside. I’ve never tried a nestbox though so can’t claim to be an expert 😉
    I quite like your pink ‘old blush’ but perhaps it’s different in real life and is indeed the shade of pink I too don’t like. I only go for blue pinks rather than sickly candyfloss shades.
    Loving your Irises too; mine are only just beginning to grow so I think it’ll be a long time until I have blooms.

    • As you may know I’m not a nest box expert either, I’m just trying my best and see what happens. I knew that thing about the east or west facing entrance to the box, but then I thought we have strong winds blowing from east in Spring, so that box is actually facing north. I know it could sound odd but this is not England, so I guess I had the right to choose so. New boxes are positioned amongst the birch trees and one is on the poplar, all of them are leafing already, providing shade and shelter to the boxes. I guess they still smell of paint though.
      As for shades of pink… well I don’t know what shade of pink is your ham, but this rose is really ham pink. :-9 I don’t hate the poor rose though, it’s a good bloomer and it’s better than many others. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be my first choice but I have more than 150 roses now (and counting…) so this Old Blush has its rights to stay.

  6. It may be time for roses in Italy, but here they are just leafing out. In any case, you have many lovely varieties. We share similar tastes in roses, it seems, my favorites are white or cream-colored. I am especially taken with Fruelingsgold and Maigold. In addition to color, I prefer these for their semi-double form, which I prefer to double.

    • I agree with you with petal number too, I prefer simple or semi double form. Indeed you are quite behind with the season this year, or maybe I’m a little forward comparing to last year…

  7. Your roses are beautiful! When I lived in the southern part of the US I grew rosa banksiae, except we called it Lady Banks rose. I love how vigorous it is. :o) I really love your centrathus! When I tried to grow it, it died because the soil was too heavy. Maybe I’ll tray again in a pot!

    • Ciao Casa, I tried many times growing centranthus before and it always died on me. Odd since everyone kept telling me it’s a very easy plant, almost weedy. This time I bought two very young plants and planted them with a lot of gravel in a wretched spot (there are pipes underground). They flowered and self seeded everywhere and the new volunteers are now colonizing the gravel garden.

      • That’s too funny. Give a plant some love and it repays you by dying. Ignore it and plant it in hell and it’s happy. The water in my rain garden came from several days of rain. The riverbed is designed to flood with heavy rain and the surrounding soil absorbs it. The plants are all planted above the water level. When we have super hot/dry weather in the summer, I just flood the riverbed to water the plants. 🙂

  8. Oh it is like June in YOUR garden Alberto! Most all the roses here are still in their dressing rooms, getting ready. Relieved you don’t play with rubber toys anymore… I love blue iris with the soft yellows to peach of so many of your roses. Did you find homes for all those cuttings of last year? You are a rose guru. The climber with the bird nest is perfect. It inspires me about a certain power pole in my vicinity.

    I loved your other post about your rose/gardening mentor. Mine was my grandma.

    • Hi Linnie! I liked the dressing room metaphor about roses, it made me smile! I’ve been away for a few days and all my roses have definitely boomed now, the little birds in the nest box are drown in white little roses, I hope they’ll appreciate it. I did not actually place ANY of the rose cuttings yet, I try and potted up some of them, but the big part is flowering (yes they are!) still in the veggie garden. Do you want a Purezza cutting for next fall? It grows quickly and it’s thornless (which is very good for big messy roses!).
      I am not a guru at all, but I like knowing my roses and I’m very fond of them. As for the mentor post… it wasn’t meant to be published, I’ve darkened it short after indeed, I will publish it with pictures and corrections in future.

      • Good morning– or afternoon– Alberto. Sure save me a cutting of Purezza. I am working on a layered start of the Oceanspray shrub you wanted (Holodiscus discolor)– maybe by fall we can do a trade! Glad you got away for a few days.

        Those lucky birds in your nest box!

        • Afternoon actually. Indeed I am so envious of those birds that I’m thinking about building a giant nest box to hang on the cherry tree for me and the dogs. I’m just working out how to build a comfortable enough bed with hay, feathers and poo…
          (OK for the cutting trading)

  9. Rival de Paestum is gorgeous! You have a nice variety of roses, and there is nothing prettier in bloom. This is such a beautiful time of year in your garden.

    • Thanks Deb! I like a lot that rose too, it formed a small rounded bush now, covered in flowers but honestly I hope it will bulk up a little quicker…

    • Hi Alistair, somehow two of your comments went on my spam draft, I’ve just fished this one and another one on my crabapple post, which I trashed because you posted a similar one just later. Sorry about that. Season is behind of at least 2-3 weeks in all Europe this year, I don’t complain though, by mid may I’m rather tired of heat normally, shile this year I’m still sleeping with a blanket, lovely! your roses will bloom, you’ll see!

  10. Hi Alberto, Alistair has obviously said nasty things about WordPress, and now all his comments go into the spam folder! I’ve just had to rescue him too. Love the roses – As you know, they are not my favourites but I enjoy looking at yours. I can only be doing with one fussy genus at a time, and primulas are as fussy as can be.

    • Hi Katie, and welcome to my blog! Yes they actually do scent the air in the garden when they are all in bloom, a real pleasure: I love scented flowers.

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