A Rose That Spoke

They may roughly be described as roses which should be grown as shrubs; that is, allowed to ramp away into big bushes, and allowed also to travel about underground if they are on their own roots and come up in fine carelessness some yards from the parent plant.

-Vita Sackville-West
May 28th, 1950
In Your Garden



Perhaps not exactly what she had in mind was this Oso Shrub Rose called Lemon-Zest.  Yes, other “classic” shrub roses are far prettier, I’m quite sure.  However, I saw this one on sale and I was instantly struck by how healthy it looked.  Compared to the other ‘fancy’ roses surrounding me, its leaves were brighter; every one of them so perfectly intact, and the buds!  The buds were plentiful with a promise of abundant color.

I slipped my hand under the leaves and checked the stems for any sign of grafting.  I do this because if the Michigan winds blow in a hard winter like that of 2013; with snow aplenty and temperatures continually below zero, your rose bush may not live to see another Spring.   Instead, it will die back, and up will pop a different rose; foreign and strange.  It is the rose which yours was grafted upon.  An unwelcomed guest indeed, and you never know what you might get.  So for this reason I prefer un-grafted roses.

This rose, I learned, will flower continuously until Fall and the flowers will not fade to white.  Because I’m such a lover of yellow lately, I thought it would make a nice picture set beside our side door which I intend to paint red or perhaps colonial blue.  I have yet to decide.

In future posts I will speak more of the roses Vita recommends.  I doubt this shrub rose would have been her first choice, in fact, I’m almost positive she would have been displeased as there are more attractive choices for shrub roses.  As she has stated, “I am no blind believer in the ‘improved’ modern flower: I don’t like delphiniums with stalks like tree-trunks; I don’t like roses with no scent and a miserable constitution…” But she has also mentioned that she doesn’t understand the snobbery that some gardeners possess.  However, to me this Lemon-Zest spoke, so its cultivar makes no difference in the world.



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