Once upon a time, the Garden Guy was the executive director of the American Rose Society and its Gardens of the American Rose Center in Shreveport, La. My fondest memories are the times spent in the area dedicated to heirloom and English roses. The fragrance seemed to permeate the air, drawing you to investigate each and every selection with the nose.
This year will be a benchmark in the olfactory experience of roses with the debut of two new series, Reminiscent and Rise Up, both brought to you by Proven Winners, and both hardy to Zone 4 (which includes the north country).
The Reminiscent series boasts three colors: coral, creme and pink. They originate with a breeding team from Serbia that has seemingly done the impossible: capturing the look, fragrance and essence seen in Empress Josephine Bonaparte’s Garden, at La Malmaison outside Paris. Yet the roses are a manageable size, carefree from the standpoint of disease, and they have put the joy of fragrance back in the bloom.
My first Reminiscent Coral blossom told me all I needed to know. The blooms are exquisite, with a cupped shape. They made me think they deserved to be painted on canvas like the roses of old. The coral color with a hint of copper is so rare in the garden, and even more beautiful against the dark green foliage. Should you be wondering, they are indeed repeat bloomers.
The Reminiscent Crema, perhaps best compared to a buttermilk color, is slightly smaller than the Coral and the Pink, reaching only 3 feet tall. They all have a spread of around 2 feet. You will love both the fragrance and the high petal count. The Reminiscent Pink, like the Coral, screams heirloom with its shape and fragrance while reaching around 4 feet tall.
The Rise Up series boasts three unique colors. Lilac Days is an extremely rare color in the world of roses; Ringo is a double yellow with a red eye; and Amberness is a stunning amber around an orange bud. A fourth selection in the pipeline, so to speak, called Emberays, is a glowing orange and yellow maturing to pink. It will be available as a preorder and will hit garden centers next year.
These were bred in Shropshire, England, and they add a new dimension to the landscape in that they are mini-climbers reaching 5 feet in height with a spread of 36 inches. All over the rose world and in cottage garden circles everywhere, there will be a cheer of celebration, as the roses will be the perfect size to fit on what I call a Victorian tower. Can you imagine a tower with Rise Up Amberness surrounded by Unplugged So Blue salvia?
As a horticulturist, I hate to confess that pruning heirlooms or old garden climbing roses has caused me on more than one occasion to do too much thinking, “Should I cut here?” With these mini-climbers, it is much simpler. Just cut back by at least a third, maybe a little more, to a good healthy bud. These roses will all have the same basic requirements, good organic rich soil with plenty of sun. As usual, a bog is not your friend.
The Reminiscent and Rise Up roses offer one more critically important trait: memories. Your children or grandchildren who grow up with these roses will remember not only the wonderful fragrance in the landscape, but also the time with their family and what their childhood was like.
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