Sunday, 10 May 2015

Mystery Rose

`If it looks like a duck and it sounds like a duck and it walks like a duck...then it probably needs longer in the microwave’ (anon). (Yes, I am still a vegetarian. Thank you for asking.) Or it is a duck.
Let’s face it, my rose in a pot by the back door, flowering on a long stem flung out, searching for the sun, is possibly that gem, `Jude the Obscure’; it looks like it and the fragrance is equally wonderful (“a very strong and delicious fragrance with a fruity note reminiscent of guava and sweet white wine” – David Austin’s handbook of roses) (although this rose is 2m so far, not 1.2m high). Did I forget I bought it? Really?
The rose by the back door (first image) was – I thought – a dead red rose (a present, oops) with a shoot from the rootstock. I have been watching this stem elongate with some fascination.
I don’t have many roses and would surely remember buying a pale apricot coloured rose – which is usually not my thing. The rose has finally opened, however, into a round shape with incurved petals like some of nicest David Austin roses, with a heavenly and strong scent, like the best DA roses – could this possibly be by accident? It seems unlikely. Me forget something? Very likely! But what a lovely surprise, and now to attempt to identify this ring-in...and maybe plant her near `Teasing Georgia’ (a lemon-yellow rose with lovely fragrance).
Ideally this mystery rose – colour-wise - would be planted by `Comte de Champagne’ or `Crocus Rose’ (second picture), not lemon `Teasing Georgia’, but space dictates otherwise and, importantly, `Comte de Champagne’ is in a row with other roses: deep gold at the centre fading to soft yellow at the ends, all at the same height (in front of a green hedge). A tall apricot rose would spoil the picture terribly – a picture that – may I say? – looked very pretty last spring with several clumps of deep blue Siberian iris at the feet of the roses.
My mystery rose will be near my definite (named) `Jude the Obscure’ too and where I can let her spread those large prickly wings but somehow where I can easily and often get a whiff of these glorious blooms.

Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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