Sunday, September 21, 2008

Late Rose:



This glorious blossom of Madame Isaac Pierre may not turn out to be the very last rose of summer in our garden, but it is likely to be the most fragrant of the last, given that this variety is considered the most perfumed of all the Old Roses. With a whiff, one is transported to paradise, located presently here in dandyland.

There are around 30 kinds of Old Roses growing here on the hill. I'm not collecting them as avidly as I once did, mainly because every good spot is currently occupied, and I think that if I could fit more in I'd like to have more than one of certain varieties. I wouldn't mind having another Madame Isaac Pierre, or the lovely white Madame Hardy. My bushes of both of these kinds, originating in the glory days of Old Rose growing in France, are over 20 years old now. They were bred to be compact and modest-sized, a virtue in the formal gardens of those days. Far more attention was paid to the fragrance of roses then, and a rosarian would easily distinguish Madame Isaac from Madame Hardy blindfolded. That I can do - Madame Hardy has a hint of lemon, and is strong but light; Madame Isaac is perfect attar of rose - balanced between ravishing and delicate without being cloying.

This summer was a bit too dry (again) to lay canes. Most Old Roses are easily propagated by digging a little trench beside the bush and carefully bending over a cane, nicking it lightly and burying part of it under the earth. By fall, generally, roots will have formed where the cane was nicked. The cane can then be cut loose from the mother bush and planted as a new independent but identical rose.

There is a song about the last rose of summer, for the soprano (Air), in The Stone Man:

The Late Rose:

The late roses in the garden
fill with sweet perfume
heavy and full
of drops of rain
they bend to pour
their fragrant tears
into the shimmering puddles...

gentle pools - they are still blooming!

(Of course we're in such a drought that there are no puddles about for the late roses to practice such delicate Narcissism with. Sigh!)

7 comments:

Pig and Peaches said...

the last or nearly the last rose of summer has made me homesick. It is Sunday and I am dreaming of my childhood~~~ fried chicken and the freedom to listen to the slow turning while sitting by the rosebushes drinking up the sweet perfume....oh, I miss Dan and Mom...

Apifera Farm said...

I'm envious of your roses. I'm trying so hard to get my roses going - In Portland, no problem. But here, well betweent he deer and the once-in-a-while escape of a goat into the rose area, it's difficult.

Oddly, the same day you posted this, Martyn and I went into Portland to the Wholesale Flower MArket, where we have a booth for our wholesale lavender. There is a place that raises roses and she had a whole selection of what I call 'old fashioned roses' the ones that look like wallpaper of the 1940's. I was smitten again. We discussed the scent issue. I had read that the modern roses grown by commercial growers now basically have bred the scent right out the rose. My theory is the scent must take up a lot of energy. She said an the commercial roses last longer which is what most buyers want. Still, I think you and I know it is much more satisfying to pick a rose and smell it's bounty of oil, and see it's petals drop in a day or two, versus having a scentless variety in a vase...ANyway, you're lucky to have roses.

Dan Dutton said...

I would suggest you try the Rugosa roses on your place - they are made of cast iron & range from white to an almost dark violet pink. I don't think anything can do them in. Old Roses are the way to go too, concerning deer & goats - they make blackberries or even barbwire look like the work of an amateur thornwise. AND they have the old rose fragrance.

I only have one comment concerning the "modern roses" - not interested. The tea rose fragrance is ok, but nothing like a real rose to me. Plus all of the modern roses are a huge pain in the wazoo to grow - too much work! (& their shapes, hybridized for the kind of bleak rose display that most people do in their barren yards, is sad looking to me. The Old Roses have distinctive habits; some arch, some clump, some climb...

Commercial roses may "last longer" - I suspect that if they do it is because the petals are heavy & coarse compared with the delicate silky petals of the Old Roses - but I'd personally rather see and smell one gorgeous ravishing Old Rose than have an acre of the new ones. And, that said, the Old Roses typically have many more blossoms than the new kinds.

By "Old Rose" I'm referring to varieties grown before the 1900s - most of the kinds I have were grown before the 1700s - one I have dates to the 1400s at least.

An interesting side note is that roses were fiirst grown for their medicinal properties as much as for their beauty.

If my Rugosa bush has another bloom, I'll post a pic for you. I know they do well out there - there's a species that grows wild or semi-wild on the coast near Seattle... I remember seeing it on the Olympic Penn.

Apifera Farm said...

Oh we have the rugosas, they are definately hardy! We planted some in the front garden there, the only odd thing is they can't maintain a full coverage bllom, usually one or two blooms at a time only. We are comitted to 0-little watering so it could be a water issue. Still, we like them and see them all over.

I agree with you on the old roses. Do you have to tip them in for winter there? My parents grew roses and loved them - in Minnesota- and we had to bury them in winter.

Kim said...

I want to stick my face in my computer monitor and take a big whiff. I can almost feel the petals on my nose & cheeks. beautiful.

Dan Dutton said...

If I could only grow... 3 roses - Madame Isaac Pereire, Madame Hardy, and maybe Rosa Gallica "The Apocathery Rose" would probably be my choices, & they're good ones to start with. I have a rose that my great great grandmother supposedly brought via muleback to the Dutton Homeplace - I'm not sure what it is exactly, but it is a bit like Madame Hardy in that it has a button center. Pink though. Oregon is mostly zone 8, isn't it - if so MME Isaac Pereire (a Bourbon rose) & MME Hardy (a Damask) should do well there. Old Roses like their morning sun, but don't like to be scorched in the afternoon - I distinctly remember a scorchy feeling there myself just before I wedged myself inside the refrigerator door....

Apifera Farm said...

ok, you've inspired me. I will reinforce the well shed area where I fenced it off from the goats and search for these. I will put a plaque up in honor of Duttons.