I mentioned my hedge of rugosa roses in After the Storm…
I’m just going to have a totally self-indulgent moment now with these roses.
The rugosa roses are tough little nuts. They will grow in sand-dunes, are disease-free, and always look lush and floriferous. There is a continuous display of blooms, each one being replaced by fat round rose-hip. I love the combination of red hips and silken magenta blooms against brightest green leaves.
These roses are perfect for semi-wild areas: the boundaries of gardens, for instance. Which is why I recruited them for my allotment invasion.
I am very grateful to these roses for not deserting.
You know when you probably shouldn’t be planting something in a particular spot? When you dig a foot down and the hole fills with water? And the clay is so claggy you could make pots from it? And there is a thick thatch of grass on top that you can be bothered to lift, so you kind of turn it upside down and hope no one notices?
I planted two dozen Rosa rugosa in this way. They would have been entirely justified if they had just keeled over there and then. But such is the life-force of Rosa rugosa, they are doing no such thing. They are even suckering, such is their immense toughness and tolerance.
Rosa rugosa is early to flower, and this one opened two weeks ago. Every morning I have sunk my nose into it. These are not face-planter roses, like my David Austin English roses, so just a little delicate nose insertion is needed here.
This is a species rose, a wild rose, and so is a single flower, with just five petals and anthers at the centre. This means that, unlike cultivated hybrids, which tend to have many petals, this rose attracts beneficial insects. The anthers also add a more complex scent to the mix.
Here is the white form:
And I seem to have a pale pink form too.
This rose has a deliciously clovey scent from the anthers. The petals give a more conventional rose scent.
I thought you couldn’t improve upon Rosa rugosa, but then I discovered the rugosa hybrids. They are often double forms, but retain the scent and the hips. There is ‘Hansa’, which I grow at the centre of the my rose garden, to bring a touch of the wild to this otherwise domesticated area.
And then I stumbled across ‘Wild Edric’. It was billed as perfect for wild areas. There was a gap in my newly created hedge that needed filling…
This was Total Tomfoolery. It is one thing sinking two dozen £1.50 bulk-buy rugosa whips, and quite another to launch a dozen DA roses into a swamp. But, before you reproach me, this was at the drier end of the quagmire. It was a bit suction cup-squelchy, but did not fill up with water here. Fingers crossed.
They are in their second year, and they are looking pretty invincible. Unsinkable, you might say.
They have big, semi-double blooms, (two layers of petals) and flower in great profusion throughout the season. Because they still have exposed anthers (unlike true double roses, where the fertile anthers have been traded for extra petals), they attract bees and other insects.
The bare-root ‘Wild Edric’ roses started off ahead of the Rosa rugosa whips, and are still looking taller and fatter at the start of their second year.
The blooms are lovely in all stages of development, from bud to falling petals. I deadhead them to keep them flowering, and in all honesty I don’t know if they produce hips or not, because I didn’t let them set seed last year.
But the best thing about this rose is the scent.
I think I let loose a little squeak when I smell this rose. I can’t help it. You would too.
Which is your favourite scented rose? Or for that matter, scented flower? Are you tempted to order some Yorkshire Mixture after being reminded of its existence?