Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

So, I'm researching what roses we want to put in the new rose garden. We have 75 linear feet, with roses on both sides of the fence (yup, putting that in, too). Staggering roses on both sides of the fence, with a bush about every three feet, we need about 50 rose bushes.

That's a lot of roses!

And that means lots of research.

But I know what I want in a rose:

1.) It has to smell great. I think a bloom with no scent is a cheat, a letdown. The waste of a perfectly good rose.

2.) The rose must stick to a restricted palette of colors. (See a glimpse of the color palette in the photo, above.) Now, roses are so beautiful, they can get away with being any color they want. Even colors I don't gravitate towards--orange, brown, apricot--look great when rendered in roses. But too many colors in a garden can look haphazard, chaotic, messy. And so, I want to limit the rose bed to colors that look good with the outside of my house (gray with white trim).

Time for a disclaimer: My husband likes roses of all colors. If it were entirely up to him, he'd plant every color of the rainbow. Multiple colors of flowers have always made him happy. So we reached a compromise. Against the house, there's a pre-exisiting patch of colorful rose bushes with bare spots where a few bushes died. We've agreed to put in some wild colors there, in deference to the hubby. He gets the house-side roses; I get the fence-side ones.

Okay, back to my demands!

3.) The blooms must have lots of petals. The simplest of all roses have only five petals; the fancier ones can have upwards of 50, 60, even more. Me, I like petals. Lots and lots of petals. Luckily, rose catalogs carry this info, so I can steer my search toward the big, jam-packed blooms.

4.) The bushes should be happy growing along a fence. No climbers, because the fence will be fairly low, and no ramblers, because I don't want them to. Ramble, that is. No miniatures, because the scale of the yard and house don't lend themselves to it.

5.) Finally, the rose bush must rate nothing less than a "7" on the American Rose Society's 10-point scale. I don't have the talent or patience to coddle along a beautiful but needy rose that only measures a 4.6 on the ARS scale.

There are more than 3,000 rose varieties out there, and I think I researched them all! I pored over coffee-table books and grower's catalogs.

While doing the research, I ran across lots of roses with simply wonderful names. If I were picking roses on name alone, these would be among my finalists:

I found roses with names of food I love,
like Buttercream, Butterscotch, Candy Cane , Cupcake, Gourmet Popcorn, Hot Cocoa, Lemon Zest. I can feel my hips spreading, just reading the names! Here is Candy Cane:

There were roses with dance-related names, such as Ballerina, Dancer, Pas de Deux, Prima Ballerina, Salsa, Swan Lake. Here is Pas de Deux:

And roses named after some of my favorite celebrities: Audrey Hepburn, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Diana, Princess of Wales, Princesse de Monaco, Mozart. This is Audrey Hepburn. I saw this variety of rose growing over her grave in Switzerland a few years ago:

A few make the name list simply because their names are so unusual!: Earthquake, Four Inch Heels, X-Rated. I was almost afraid to Google X-Rated, but look how sweet it is!:

I found lots of roses named after things I love: Eiffel Tower, English Garden, French Perfume, Grey Pearl, Tiffany, Jacaranda, Laughter Lines, Lavender Lace, Lavender Pearl, Moonlight, Night, Pearl, Pegasus, Puppy Love, Sea Pearl, Tea Party, Teddy Bear, and a lot with "Silver" in the name: Silver Cloud/Dawn/Lining/Moon/Shadows, and Silver Star, not to mention, Sterling Silver. Here is Moonlight:

I found roses named for admirable qualities and things to strive for: Elegance and Freedom and Chuckles and Giggles and Glad Tidings and Glamour and Glee, Hope for Humanity, Hope and Joy, Love, Make Believe, Peace, Quietness, Simplicity. This is Glad Tidings:

There were roses that reminded me of my beloved mountains: Mount Shasta, Rushing Stream, Sequoia Gold, Sierra Sunrise, Snowcap. This is Sierra Sunrise. It's a miniature:

And I even found roses with my family's names: Grace and Sheer Bliss, Ruthie, and Sexy Rexy. This is Sexy Rexy:

And this is Sheer Bliss:

These last two actually meet all the other requirements. Sheer Bliss is going in the garden for sure. And I'll put in Sexy Rexy, too--but I'm going to giggle every time somebody asks me what its name is.


  1. Hope your rose garden came out the way you wanted it to. I wasn't sure after reading what you wanted and then reading the names of the roses. Many you mentioned by name were miniatures, which I don't think you knew at the time of this writing. My sister and I both grow roses and like totally different kinds, but we have been growing and around roses all of our lives and I am near 70 now so that is a lot of years of rose growing between us. It would be nice to see some of the pics of how it all came out for you in the end. Especially with Sexy Rexy, which I know for a fact to be a medium to dark pink rose and not a multi-colored one like the picture you have on here. A great resource for roses is Help Me Find and always depend on ARS for the most official information out there.

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