Thursday, July 21, 2011

Looking for Louis Lens' Pink Mystery

Quite a few years ago, I had the pleasure of sending many rose to Louis Lens, the remarkable Belgian rose breeder. Sharon VanEnoo, a great friend whom I met at The Huntington years ago when we were both volunteers there, traveled to Belgium frequently as her son and his family lived there. She graciously hand carried garbage bags of individually prepared bags of various roses several times over the years she visited. She met Mr. Lens and they became fast friends. Mr. Lens named two roses in her honor, Sharon's Love, and Twins, in honor of her twin grandchildren.

As a "thank you" for the material I sent him, he had Rudy Velle and Ann Velle Boudolf who bought his nursery when he retired from that area of the business, send me a large package of his wonderful roses. Pink Mystery was one of the most exciting.

Mr. Lens was well known for his ground breaking work with species roses. He shared my fascination with the little known American species R. Stellata mirifica, the Sacramento Rose. Of the seven unique hybrids listed on Help Me Find-Roses, six belong to Mr. Lens. Unfortunately, my only photographs of Pink Mystery are unavailable. The closest I can illustrate it is by posting photos of Stellata mifirica and pointing out how it differs; providing the link to the Help Me Find-Roses page for Pink Mystery (the red "Pink Mystery" above); and by linking to photographs in Roseraie environnementale de Chaumont-Gistoux in Belgium.

Pink Mystery's flowers are actually a bit larger with wider petals than Stellata mirifica. The foliage is denser, larger, heavier and a darker green, much more "elegant" as if created from "better cloth", though knowing one will make the other immediately recognizable. Both will flower all summer if given adequate moisture and both have been totally disease free in my old mid desert garden.

Marvelous photos of Pink Mystery growing at the above mentioned garden are Photo of plant; Blooms and foliage; Flower detail. I find it very attractive how the bush in full flower resembles an annual Cosmos.

 Stellata mirifica sets very odd hips, while I never observed any on Pink Mystery.

I grew it for years in my Newhall garden and spread it around as far as I could find people willing to take it on for their gardens. Unfortunately, I lost it and it appears, so have the others who grew it as it isn't shown as being available anywhere in this country. None of the nurseries who had it, still list it. It is conspicuous in its absence on  the Lens Nursery rose list. Requests for any information concerning where it might be found on Help Me Find-Roses and Garden Web have, to date, resulted in no responses.

Hans at  Bierkreek Nursery in The Netherlands, has been searching for Pink Mystery for the past several years, with little luck. Through the generous efforts of a Help Me Find-Roses member who also lives in The Netherlands, Pink Mystery has been located in a public garden, and efforts are under way to obtain propagating material for it. Marvelous news, but difficult for us here in the United States due to the time, quarantine period and costs involved in importing rose material from there to here.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I'm hoping that someone may know of Pink Mystery's existence somewhere here in the United States or Canada. If it can be located in a garden here, cuttings or suckers could be obtained and the plant once again introduced into commerce here without the required paperwork, time and expense of importing it from overseas.

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