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Grandpa's Rose is Blooming

Or rather, the rose was blooming.  I've been meaning to write this blog for a week or two and this particular rose show has basically come and gone already so I'm behind the times.  My Grandpa K was quite a gardener.  He had a large veggie and flower garden bordering the whole east side of his yard, surrounded by a tiny electric fence to keep rabbits (and possibly overly-curious grandkids?) out.  He also had quite a lot of fruit trees, and walnut trees, and a real root cellar in the basement where they stored dug potatoes and all of Grandma's canned stuff, and chickens for fresh eggs, and lots of other way cool stuff that made a visit to Grandma and Grandpa's place one of a kind.  When he died in 1999, my Mom and I stopped by his house and took cuttings of one of his rose bushes to remember him and that special place by.  The roses are now flourishing both at my place and at Mom and Dad's in northern WI Zone 3. 

Grandpa's rose

Color fading...

An older photo of Grandpa's rose in the back of this perennial bed.

I have no idea what variety Grandpa's rose is.  It reaches 4-5' tall, which I suppose means it could be considered a climber, but I just use it as a nice, wild backdrop for my sunny perennial bed.  It tends to sucker quite a bit, so this spring I gave it a heavy thinning and rounding up of the rogue canes just as the buds were breaking dormancy.  Now it has much more air circulation, albeit a few floppy canes that don't have as many neighbors to lean on anymore.  Not that disease seemed to be a problem in this tough old variety; I've never noticed a speck of powdery mildew or black spot on it.  It's sprays of cotton candy pink flowers fade to pale blush pink as they age. The down side of this rose, if I have to choose, is that it's a bit on the prickly mean side, and not a show stopper as far as long-lasting blooms.  The outer petals start browning almost the same instant the flowers open on this old girl, and she only puts on her show for a week or two each summer, and that's it.  But oh, the smell!  It is a deeply sweet and spicy fragrance.  I have no idea how to describe it, but I don't think you get a fragrance like this in the newer varieties of roses anymore. 

Fragrance has often been overlooked and left behind in the plant breeding world's quest for longer bloom time or repeat blooming, disease resistance, production time, shippability or unusual rose colors (think florist industry).   While these are all arguably important features, fragrance seems like it should be the signature of any rose, no?  It totally makes all the thorns worthwhile.  I hope to always have this sentimental, if not 'perfect', rose to help me remember my roots.


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