originally published, Potpourri of Roses, February/March, 1993; included in A Passion for Roses, 1997
Gardeners in the early decade of this century were fortunate to have a fair number of these elegant roses from which to choose and enjoy. Too many of them have been lost due to changing fashion and the rush for what's new. Most of us are familiar with DAINTY BESS, daughter of OPHELIA, with her broad, wavy, shell-pink petals, reddish stamen, golden pollen and sweet fragrance. There really isn't anything dainty about DAINTY BESS as she develops into a tall bush literally covered in bloom. The story goes that the hybridizer named the rose to woo his fair maiden. It worked, and this great rose has been gracing gardens the world over since 1925. But, are, you aware of the other singles that aren't quite as well known but are still available?
Some of them are upright and fairly stiff as would be expected from a hybrid tea, while others resemble the growth and habits of the older tea roses, slowly building a twiggy bush fairly smothered in bloom. DAINTY BESS fits well with the hybrid teas, as do the following. FRANCES ASHTON, dating from 1937, is a tall grower, to over five feet, with thick, strong canes. She produces three to five of her slightly fragrant, three and a half to four inch, five petaled carmine blooms on strong, straight stems. The large petals are of good substance and surround wine colored stamen crowned with golden pollen.
CAPTAIN THOMAS, named for Captain George C. Thomas, of BISHOP DARLINGTON, DR. HUEY and the BLOOMFIELD series fame, was released in 1938. It is usually considered a climbing hybrid tea, but can easily be grown as a three to five foot bush with strong, straight canes well clothed in dark, glossy foliage. You can expect profuse production of clusters of lemon buds, maturing to cream colored, single flowers with red stamen and a spicy fragrance. CAPTAIN THOMAS was crossed with CRIMSON GLORY to produce the shrub-climber SUNNY JUNE. The result is of the original but with brighter, stronger coloring.
COLETTE CLEMENT, released in 1929, is a granddaughter of R. Foetida bicolor. It has produced a three foot bush with relatively smooth, yellow-green wood and medium yellow-green, glossy foliage. The foliage, wood, prickly flower stems and general coloring make it fit the description of a Pernetiana pretty well. Its growth isn't quite as stiff as the preceding, but it is every bit as profuse a bloomer. The petal count varies, and the flat, open, four inch flowers have eight to ten, of a bright, reddish, nasturtium-orange with yellow bases. The slightly fragrant blooms soften as they mature and are perfect for the foliage.
KATHLEEN MILLS was introduced in 1934 and is perhaps the stiffest growing of the lot. She is tall, to over four feet, with large, coarse canes. The long, pointed, dark carmine buds spiral open to quite large, very fragrant, silvery satin-pink flowers with two rows of petals, framing red stamen and golden pollen. The reverses of the petals remain a darker carmine-pink, resulting in a bicolor effect.
INNOCENCE arrived in 1921 with its long, spiraled, blush-pink and pale yellow buds on vigorous, two foot high bushes. These open to pure white, five inch blooms of two rows of petals with red stamen. The canes are very strong, very prickly and clad with plentiful, dark leathery foliage.
CECIL has become one of my favorites. It is easy for me to see why it has lasted since its introduction in 1926. The four foot tall, prickly bush is well clothed in glossy, bright yellow-green leaves. Its flawless bright canary-yellow, four inch single flowers develop from long, pointed buds in small clusters, and are constantly produced all summer and into the late fall. The fact I have never seen any disease on this rose is the "icing on the cake", making this one of the most satisfying yellow roses I have ever encountered.
ISOBEL is an oldie, 1916, but a REAL goodie! She is a strong growing bush, easily achieving four by four feet, well clothed in Matte, rich green foliage. The flower stems carry the small, reddish prickles characteristic of the Pernetianas, as do CECIL, IRISH ELEGANCE and I ZINGARI. They vary from three to seven inches long depending on the weather, and usually carry one to three open blooms. The beautiful, long, pointed, bright pink buds spiral open to produce a four to five inch, rose-pink, five petaled, open bloom with yellow petal bases and a spicy fragrance. For anyone who likes FRULINGSMORGEN, but wants a more restrained bush with dependably constant bloom, ISOBEL is the only choice
WHITE WINGS is a seedling of DAINTY BESS introduced in 1947 and is relatively well known. It inherits its mother's wide petals, fragrance and golden pollen, but with chocolate anthers. While not as tall as its seed parent, it can build to a three foot bush and rival the fair BESS in quantity as well as quality of bloom. Well-formed clusters of its large, silvery-white flowers resemble a flock of tropical butterflies or white hibiscus.
ELLEN WILLMOTT is an earlier seedling of DAINTY BESS with LADY HILLINGDON as the pollen parent, introduced in 1939. Its growth is rather like a stiffer, more upright tea rose. The bush has grown to between three and a half and four feet, with plum colored, soft new foliage maturing matte, dark green. The relatively smooth wood also exhibits the plum colorings, and the tea influence is apparent in all plant parts including the smooth necks and the curved prickles. The blooms come singly and In small clusters beginning creamy pale pink with apricot shadings developing into five scalloped petals of pale lemon-apricot and cream with blush-pink, all with a light, sweet fragrance. The stamen bear a strong resemblance to DAINTY BESS', being quite characteristic.
LULU was released in 1919 and is a bit more double than the preceding. It is a shorter bush, under two feet, with thinner, twiggier growth, well-clad with plentiful, rich, bronze-green foliage. The stems are long and thin, with one of the most beautifully formed buds you are likely to find anywhere. The flowers boast eight to ten petals of the same clean, bright, orange-salmon as the buds, maturing a softer salmon with a slight fragrance.
MRS. OAKLEY FISHER is a lovely single introduced in 1921. This is where the older tea-type bush enters the group. It has slowly developed into a four and a half foot plant with dense, twiggy growth. It displays the plum colored new foliage of many of the apricot shaded roses, with plum-green-brown wood, but with rather more prickles than I would expect from a tea. The soft, rich plum new leaves mature a dark, bronzy green. In constant bloom from spring to frost, her luscious apricot-orange blooms appear usually one to the stem with a sweet, clove fragrance.
IRISH ELEGANCE is the oldest of the bunch, dating from 1905. It forms a large, open, airy, rounded bush, well over five feet, if pruned sparingly. The new growth is bronzy red and matures to a matte, medium green. The exquisite pointed, slender buds open to three and a half inch, orangy-apricot blooms of five separated petals with a spicy fragrance. These pale to a soft buff-orange with apricot tints and prominent veins. It is quite decorative and a few of its elegant buds in a vase is a delight.
ORIENTAL CHARM is the most modem of the listing, being introduced in 1960. It has grown into a twiggy mound and gives beautiful long, pointed buds of Oriental red. These traditionally contain two rows of petals, expanding to four inch, rich, bright orange-red blooms showing generous golden pollen. The color remains clean and bright until petal fall.
I ZINGARI is an odd little rose with smallish leaves and thin, twiggy growth. It is the only hybrid tea offering from the Rev. Joseph Pemberton I have been able to find, and for this reason, is significant. I was fortunate to have been able to obtain cuttings of it through the generosity of a friend at Rose Hills. It impresses me as being and "in-between" rose Pemberton developed on his road to the hybrid musks. The bush is just under two feet tall and yields long, pointed buds of a very modem orange-scarlet, much in the mold of COLETTE CLEMENT. The petal bases are a rich yellow showing off the purple-red stamen and golden pollen to good effect when the double row of petals spiral and reflex downward. There is a spicy fragrance when the blooms are fresh.
While not one I would suggest if you were limited to only one or two, it is interesting because of its age, being introduced in 1925, and being possibly the only Pemberton hybrid tea remaining. John Mac Gregor, former Curator of Roses at the Huntington Library, translates the name as "the male gypsy". Modem Roses 1 classifies it as a hybrid Foetida and describes it as an "especially vivid shade, resembling the colors of the I Zingari Cricket Club, for which it is named".
VESUVIUS is a dark, velvety crimson, introduced in 1923 by the house of McGredy. Its stems are long and straight and proudly carry one to three of the four inch, sweetly fragrant blooms. While producing its share of the thinner, twiggier growth characteristic of the type, it will build a frame work of very thick, strong canes. The foliage is a dull, medium green, and remains very clean all year.
A long search has yielded a wonderful single called FLAME OF LOVE. Until spring of 1993, it had simply been a name tag in a bed Rose Hills without a plant. Muriel Humenick at Rose Acres generously supplied this child of hybridizer and former president of the San Diego Rose Society, Forrest Hieatt. Information from Mr. Jim Kirk, formerly of Rose Hills states that Mr. Hieatt presented ten bushes to the member of the San Diego Rose Society who could come up with the best name for the rose. Mrs. Mabel Pillsbury won that honor, and the rose fell into obscurity. I could find no information concerning it as it was never registered, but Bev Dobson's Combined Rose List from 1986 showed Rose Acres as the source. Mr. Kirk confirmed that Mr. Hieatt had given him FLAME OF LOVE. as well as I ZINGARI many years before, and he had brought them from his garden at Poway, California to Rose Hills. Mr. Kirk gave Muriel Humenick a plant of FLAME OF LOVE, and now this beautiful single hybrid tea is back in circulation.
The plant has grown to about three feet, and produces an endless stream of five inch, brilliant red flowers with bright yellow pollen. from very long, shapely buds. There is a prominent bright yellow zone to the base of the petals, surrounding dark red stamen, carrying golden pollen. It is a valuable addition to the single bed.
This year's Heritage Rose Catalog offers a study rose called "SINGLE RED HYBRID TEA", described as "large, velvety red blooms complimented by a vigorous bush and healthy green foliage". It would be great if this proved to be one of the all-too-many singles to have been forgotten. We shall see. The most recent registration I have run across is for DAISY MAE, a yellow single hybrid tea created by Louis Stoddard a few years back, but not available. Too bad, as it may be an interesting addition.
These wonderful roses possess a unique charm, grace and elegance not often encountered today. Jack Harkness states in his great book, Roses, that they have been pretty much superseded by the floribunda class. Yet, few floribundas, if any, combine the beauty of the wild or species roses with the well-behaved plant and continuous bloom of our modern bedding roses. They allow you to enjoy modem versions of Nature's beauty without needing to devote large areas of your garden for a few plants with a short period of bloom. Plus, they represent a time of simpler, more elegant gardening. Treat yourself to an adventure and plant a few. Get acquainted with some "new" old friends.