A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

There’s one rose in Garden 101 that receives more positive comments from neighbours and visitors (remember those?) than just about anything else in the garden – including the things I spend hours growing! Every year it has reliably produced enormous creamy white rosettes in vast numbers; it’s really striking. Last year, I was asking everyone I could think of if they could identify my mystery celebrity rose. I received some excellent suggestions, but every time I looked them up, it just didn’t seem quite right, so I assumed it would remain a mystery (just like all the other roses in the garden).

Until today! This afternoon, I pruned my roses and the celebrity rose was looking a little (understatement) congested. As ever, I consulted the general RHS page on rose pruning for advice, but also Googled ‘hard pruning roses’ and found a website that said it’s pretty much impossible to kill off a rose by overpruning. I’ve no idea if this is true, but went at the rose with the secateurs and the loppers until I’d achieved the open shape that I was looking for.

What this revealed was a label at the bottom of the rose, telling me that it’s a Crocus Rose. A little bit of research shows that this is a David Austin shrub rose introduced in the year 2000. I have read that it’s a robust rose (phew!), hardy, but likes full sun and rich soil and is to be pruned in late February or early March if you live in a colder area. Partly by absolute luck, it’s in the right place and I’ve treated it properly! What was most surprising was reading that the height is supposed to be around four feet tall, whereas mine was at least seven feet tall! One of the reasons I wanted to prune it back is so I can deadhead it more easily, as last year I couldn’t reach the top.

It looks like it’s quite difficult to get hold of in the UK now, as it isn’t listed on the David Austin website (though it is on the US site) and the RHS lists it as also being known as Rosa Ausquest, sold by six nurseries around the country.

I seem to have a waiting list among friends for cuttings and I’m looking forward to being able to share this rose with other people. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see it coming back and thriving again in 2021; in the past it’s been one of the first to arrive and last to leave, so hopefully I haven’t killed it off this afternoon!


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