April 07 2021
A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. So wrote Gertrude Stein in her poem ‘Sacred Emily’ in 1913. Meaning, I guess, it is what it is. Maybe she used the rose because we have a pretty clear idea of what a rose is when we hear the word. That archetypical hybrid tea rising in solitary splendor-truly, they are gorgeous-but I can’t grow those outside as a rule. Most of the roses in my garden are own root (not grafted) plants from the Morden experiment station in Canada. They require no special care whatsoever. The Morden station has developed several dozen varieties in the Explorer, Parkland, and Artist Series in all colors and singles, semi-doubles, and doubles. This refers to the number of petals.
Think of our native wild rose with it’s five petals-now count the stamens, or maybe not, there’s lots. Now imagine those stamens mutating into petals until there’s so many petals that the few remaining stamens are completely hidden deep inside-there you have a fully double rose. These flowers are typically sterile as the pollinators can’t get to the remaining pollen. One benefit for us is that these flowers last longer as flowers begin to senesce when they are pollinated. Semi double roses (other flowers too, like peonies) have fewer petals and you can still see some of those yellow tipped stamens, so they are suitable for pollinators. One could draw a logical conclusion that double flowers don’t produce seeds and can’t propagate themselves this way. So here I am trying to remember if I’ve ever seen rosehips (seed capsules, really) on double flowered roses. Few, if any, it turns out. From now on, I will pay more attention as to whether any double roses produce hips.
One of my favorite Canadian roses is Morden Blush. It has fully double, prolific, shell pink blossoms and is absolutely trouble free. The only pruning I do is cut to shape and cut back an occasional winter damaged branch. They make wonderful cut flowers-only a light fragrance though. Some internet sites say they have hips, but I have never seen a one.
If you are concerned about this rose’s lack of pollen, consider this-most of the flowers in your gardens are probably single or semi-double and as a rule, there is a much higher concentration of flowers in your garden than in nature. True in my garden for sure.
Morden Blush is one more exception to my “I don’t care for pink” rule, I try not to pay over much attention to rules anyway. Fully double roses exist because humans love them and propagate them. One of our more delightful accomplishments, methinks!
Rosa ‘Morden Blush’ zone 3