Please allow me to introduce you to Rosa ‘Penelope’. You may have met her before or, if not her, then possibly one of her equally gorgeous sisters. They are all varieties of hybrid musk rose, most of which were bred by a remarkable fellow called Rev. Joseph Pemberton in the early 1900s. He was vicar of the splendidly named Havering-atte-Bower in Essex, where he lived with his sister and helper, Florence.
Clergymen were responsible for much plant breeding and research around that time, as they were usually clever and had a fair bit of time on their hands (rattling off a pithy sermon, visiting the odd parishioner and pitching up for matins and evensong on a Sunday were not particularly onerous tasks). Pemberton and his sister grew about 4,000 roses and were inspired by their grandmother’s remarkable collection.
I tell you all this because you should really be thinking about ordering bare-root roses for planting out in the winter. If you’re wondering what to plant, and you favour old-fashioned varieties, then hybrid musk roses are hard to beat. In support of this I draw your attention to the photograph at the top of this blog. It was taken today and my, does it not look fabulous? A blustery September day and she is flowering like a good ‘un.
Hybrid musk roses flower first in June and then produce orange hips. You then have the choice to leave the hips on the bush and enjoy them in the winter, or to deadhead the whole thing and hang on for a few weeks until it flowers again.
Alternatively, you can do what I try to remember to do and deadhead about 75% and leave some of the hips, thereby getting the best of both worlds. These are quite big shrubs, which grow to approximately 1.5m height and spread; the foliage is glossy (slightly bronzed when young) and the plants are pretty disease resistant. They all smell delightful.
In the unlikely event that you don’t fancy ‘Penelope’ much, then try ‘Moonlight’ , ‘Felicia’ , ‘Cornelia’ or ‘Buff Beauty’.
FG_AUTHORS: James Alexander-Sinclair