Thursday, May 22, 2014

there is no perfect rose

Searching for the perfect rose is like searching for the holy grail. It may not exist, but the joy is searching for it. It probably does not exist because we are imperfect ourselves, and that representation is of searching for the perfect in ourselves. I planted two of the roses last year that I think are among the most beautiful roses I've ever seen, and they are starting to open now.

I first saw 'Eden' when I was in France, where it is planted everywhere, but I first saw it at the Jardin du Luxembourg. There it is called 'Pierre de Ronsard.' It impressed me not with its huge blossom, but the delicately shaded fading to almost white on the outer petals and darker pink in the center, so that the overall impression is of light loveliness. This was a weird thing for me to realize, since pink roses are a dime-a-dozen, and I am not a "pink" person (at all) but I liked this one. I really liked it.

'Pierre de Ronsard Jardin du Luxembourg 2006

Sadly, when I went back in 2012 to the Jardin de Luxembourg, Pierre had been removed. 
'Pierre de Ronsard' 2006

Then I saw one in my neighborhood 2 years ago, peeking over the wall. This year it is even more impressive, and I almost stopped my car in the middle of traffic to gawk at it.

It's funny that the photos do not capture this rose well, so you may think 'Eh!", but I knew that I should have one in my yard.

'Eden' is not without its faults. The outer petals get brown edges in my climate. The leaves are a coarse like a hybrid tea.  It has large thorns. The leaves could be a richer green (but that may be my fault or my garden's fault). I've heard that it is susceptible to thrips and some foliar disease, but not so far in my garden. It's biggest fault, which is nearly unforgivable in my book, is the lack of scent. You would expect a rose that looks like this to have a gorgeous fragrance, and it is described as "moderate" by some, but to my very sensitive nose, it is barely detectible.

William Shakespeare 2000 on the other hand, has a delicious fragrance. I don't remember my first sighting of it, probably on the web, but I remember I found myself a bit slack-jawed. Then when I smelled on in person, I was lost. That's what a rose should smell like. It was strong, rich, but even better, with nuance. This is one of the first flowers on my two bushes (twigs, really) of WS2K this year. Although not perfect, they still stop me in my tracks. So maybe now you know why I was so angry with the wind for snapping one bush at the base.

William Shakespeare 2000 is not a perfect bush. It has weak stems, and I realized that it was the only rose bush in the garden where the branches were broken by the wind, and you don't get flowers if the stems are snapped off. The stems also do not stand upright, but I consider that part of the grace that separates it from Hybrid Teas.

One big fault is that it does require moist soil. To produce a big dense flower, this needs a lot of water. WS2000 wants to grow in a swamp (at least it seems that way in a desert climate and granitic soils). 

 To me, the English roses look their best when fully open, or at least half open. Roses in the bud are much less interesting. I suppose that's why I like the English roses, since the Hybrid Teas are supposed to look their best in the bud or at most half open. That's a very short time, especially in the heat. Another analogy with life, I suppose. Older is more interesting. My honey should be happy with my perspective on that.

Boring in the bud.
So neither are the holy grail of rosedom for me. But they are a start. I've just got to keep looking.


  1. That 'Pierre de Ronsard' at your neighbor's house works well against the muted, light stucco. If only the interloper aspen on the left, which wants to be 4000' higher with a straw in a mountain creek, was elsewhere, even better:-)

  2. Funny, I just posted something similar on my blog about seeking the perfect rose which I have yet to find. What I didn't add was that I was thinking of putting in three Eden roses. scent. Interesting because it really is gorgeous. You might like George Hamilton - English Rose with a great scent and really nice fulls blooms although it is pale pink. It has been so healthy. I have pics of it on my blog is your are interested.

  3. Something else to keep in mind with Eden, is that it doesn't seem to rebloom in this climate. My neighbor's doesn't and it is old enough and big enough and well-watered enough that if it were to rebloom, it would. Also, I realized that although Eden's season is a few weeks, it's because the burst of flowers lasts for a few weeks, not because new flowers come out (so if those flowers are damaged by say, wind, then the season is toast). Maybe that will change as it is older.

    I enjoyed reading your blog entry. Since roses are so location dependent, where are you located? I've always liked the look of Geoff Hamilton, which seems similar in some ways to Eden, but I've heard that it doesn't take heat well. I've planted four David Austin roses so far, and have not been impressed, but they are still young.