Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The "Chestnut Rose" and "Perle d'Or"

Don't ever let anyone try to persuade you that Roses are not suited to Robertson's soil or climate. Some Roses might not be, but I simply say grow the right varieties of Rose. If in doubt, choose Old-fashioned Roses.

This is Rosa roxburghii plena, which means the "double" form of the Chestnut Rose. It is named for the director of a Botanic Gardens in Calcutta, where the plant was brought from China, in 1814. You have to remember the colonial history of China and India for that to make much sense.Basically, early explorers and missionaries in China were acting as spies and thieves. They smuggled plants out of China. Consequently, as soon as possible after leaving China the plant samples were opened, and "grown on". Calcutta was a strategic port in British controlled India. Literally thousands of plants made this risky journey, before being shipped on more safely to Kew Gardens and other private gardens in England.

I have seldom bothered to photograph this Rose before. To be honest, it is one of a number of Roses which I ordered and grew on an experimental basis, and for their Novelty Value.

I knew it, vaguely, from having toured some old rose collections. I knew it was said to have bristly buds (hence the name, as Chestnuts have bristly burred coatings outside their smooth nuts. That's where the similarity ends.)

What I had not counted on is its hardiness and reliability and its ability to flower in deep shade. This plant is overgrown by other shrubs, yet it manages to flower for me, every summer.

It produces flowers with this luscious bright pink colour in the centre, but a light pale pink outer colour. I do not touch this plant from one year to the next - except to admire it occasionally as I walk past.
Here is another lovely little rose "Rosa Perle d'Or" which is so easy to grow that these flowers are coming from a foam box in which I placed some cuttings, several years ago. They survived the cutting and striking process, and then have survived total neglect since then. I kid you not. I have not touched these plants since laying down the cuttings.
Every summer these delightful small apricot-pink flowers appear. They are a little larger than the classic "buttonhold rose" (Rosa Cecile Brunner).


mick said...

Beautiful flowers - and I definitely agree that roses can be extremely hardy. Years ago while living in Canada I had a rose that continued to bloom even after snow started to fall. The rest of the roses in that same rose bed died off quickly and only this one kept blooming.

Anonymous said...

Hi Denis, what a charming story of some beautiful and very tolerant roses. When I made the big move north in '85 I mentally said goodbye to the idea of growing roses....but I still love them, especially the old fashioned species. Thank you for the memories!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick and Barbara.
Thanks for the comments.
Roses, especially the old-fashioned varieties, seem to trap people's memories.
You are both re-living old memories of favourite Roses.
Happy to trigger a smile!