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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Belle Story Roses

I like roses...I don't really LOVE them, but I find that I have lots peeking in and out of my garden. I think one of the major reasons I grow some is their scent. Secondly, I love the various colors roses come in.

I favor the old rose scent which is commonly referred to as a Damask rose. In my childhood in the early 1960s, I remember breathing in the lovely scent that the old ladies wore. Sitting alone, or with other old ladies, wearing sturdy shoes dating probably to the 1930s, glasses without rims, hats and gloves, they always welcomed me when I moved from the pew where my family sat. I would creep down the aisle to sit with them, only when hymns started or stopped, and NEVER during a prayer or a reading.

There, I would sit with them, quietly. They would take my small hand and trace out the lines in my palm, or make me little babies in a cradle out of their printed handkerchiefs.

In my own garden here in Ohio, there are two red roses left by the former owner. Pretty, but without scent, I haven't the heart to rip them out. I have planted more than 40, but the harsh winters without snow cover and the heavy clay soil have taken their toll and I haven't replaced them. I decided after the first year when I lost 29, that I would replace a few, but if they made it, fine, if they didn't, then that was OK too.

David Austin, the famous English hybridizer, has developed what seems like hundreds of wonderful good scented roses, long flowering and in wonderful colors. One of my first Austin roses was this one called Belle Story and it remains my favorite I think. It is harder to find now than when I put it in in Connecticut in 1990. Popularity in roses is very fickle and as new ones come on the market, others drop out. Belle story opens a pink blushed with orange, which fades out to pink. The centers remind me of the"Tudor" rose, and they have petals which are described as cupped.

It is hardy, and has survived the zone 5 winters here without wrapping in burlap which I usually do to avoid the drying, incessant western wind. It rarely needs more than a little trim of the dead tips, if that. It is not prone to mildew or some of the other problems the more persnickety hybrid tea roses have.

Other Austin roses I have are orange, Pat Austin, Carding Mill and Livin' Easy. Tamora didn't make it, but I've added a few others, Queen of Sweden (pink--largely because I'm 1/4 Swedish); Glamis Castle (a lovely white), and a few others which I'm not sure if they survived or if I now have the rose from the root stock instead....(note to self: buy roses on own roots, it's better that way).

No matter how I fuss and snarl at them when they are eaten by Japanese beetles, or fall prey to black spot, I find that I have to have them....but maybe not 40.


Vivien Zepf said...

I love my patch of tea roses ... though somehow, I planted some irises in their midst (?). Go figure.

Michigoose said...

I just dug some of my irises from around the feet of Pat Austin. The iris are a very pale, almost white, blue and needed division....I planted them initially to sort of hide the roses feet, and to provide a contrast in texture...I'm not sure that was so successful. Some people plant Geraniums (cranesbill), but so far, Jolly Bee and Roxanne have been tooooooo big and sort of compete with the roses, so I'm still working on the companions.