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'Illusion' rose Reviews & Comments
Discussion id : 45-649
most recent 8 JUN 10 HIDE POSTS
Initial post 8 JUN 10 by Cavallo
Mine died back to the ground its first winter (USDA Zone 4b/5a). I'm thinking winter hardiness is not all it's cracked up to be. It gets one more try before it gets the shovel.
Discussion id : 39-544
most recent 2 OCT 09 HIDE POSTS
Initial post 2 OCT 09 by arvid jørgensen
I had hardly ever heard about this rose until a year ago. As it is recommended for cooler climates, and as the flowers have the bright dark red colour, I decided to give it a place in my garden when I planted it in spring last year. For a second year`s plant the repeat flowering is quite good as is the growing potential and the disease resistance. The flowers`rain tolerance, however, seems to be a different story that leaves much to be desired. All the same I like this rose, and I hope it will develop into a good red climber by the years.
Discussion id : 9-581
most recent 27 FEB 06 SHOW ALL
Initial post 14 JUL 05 by Unregistered Guest
I have grown plants of Illusion since the early 70's at two different locations in northern Ohio. I have found it to have beautiful red, very double, and relatively large flowers. It is also a continual bloomer, blackspot- and mildew-free (without spraying), and relatively hardy (here in a normal zone 5b winter, -10 to -15 degrees F, only the tips show any winter injury). A very important point, in northern Ohio, is that the Japanese Beetles ignore it! Illusion occupies the premier location in my front yard - it surrounds the lamp post.

In Modern Roses 10 Illusion is described as a Kordesii (the second parent has never been disclosed) shrub that was hybridized in 1961 by Kordes. "Flowers blood-red to cinnabar, dbl., large blooms in large clusters; fragrant; foliage leathery, glossy, light green; vigorous growth." In Wilhelm Kordes book, Roses, Reinhold Publishing Corporation, page 195 (1964) Illusion is described as having flowers that are large, full, well-formed with wild rose fragrance. The blooms are about 3 inches across and appear in clusters of up to 8 individual florets. The time of flowering is early, and the habit of growth is upright with good branching. He recommends it as a pillar, hedge, and/or specimen shrub. It can reach a height of 10 feet. It is free flowering and resistant to disease. In the 1965 Rose Annual of the British National Rose Society, Wilhelm Kordes wrote an article titled "The History of Rosa kordesii, Wulff". In the article he states: "We brought out Illusion in 1961. It is a really rich deep blood red, very free flowering and an upright grower, with the scent of the dog rose." Roy Genders in his book, The Rose, A Complete Handbook, Bobbs-Merrill Company publisher, page 440, (1965) stated the following about Illusion: "A most arresting climber with its huge trusses of fragrant flowers of exotic cinnabar-red which are borne all along the stems to a height of 8 - 9 ft."

The University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station published, in 1995, a 92-page report Roses for the North (item number ESMR-6594-SKID, cost $11.95 plus $3.50 shipping and handling, Minnesota Extension Service, 415 Coffey Hall, 1420 Eckles Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55108-6068). Illusion was one of the roses evaluated. For bloom pattern Illusion is reported to have heavy June bloom, slight July rebloom, and moderate August/September rebloom. For comparison this is the same bloom pattern reported for Dortmund, Henry Kelsey, and William Baffin. For winter injury Illusion was found to have dieback to the snow line, to the ground, and to the snow line for the winters of 1988-89, 1989-90, and 1990-91 respectively (remember the tests were done in zone 4a where the minimum winter temperatures are in the range of - 25 and -30 degrees F). This was the same as reported for Dortmund, Alchymist, Bonica, and for the hybrid rugosa, Hunter. In the section on diseases, Illusion did not exhibit any blackspot, powdery mildew, leaf spots, or rust during the two years of the study. Unfortunately in the section on insect observations, none of the Kordesiis were listed.

Illusion does set hips. The seeds are relatively easy to germinate. I am very impressed with the seedlings that I have grown. All of the flowers have been double, and all but one (a pink) have been a rich red. Since the oldest seedlings are only two years old, it is too soon to know what type (climber, shrub, etc.) they will be. I am now trying to cross Illusion and William Baffin with the hope of obtaining a climber with the hardiness of William Baffin and the flower of Illusion. I would suggest that crosses of Illusion with red hybrid teas be made in an attempt to increase the fragrance and/or hardiness and/or disease resistance and/or the insect resistance of the red hybrid tea class. It is not often one can hope for four possible improvements from one cross!

I purchased both of my plants from Pickering Nurseries, 670 Kingston Road, Pickering, Ontario L1V 1A6 (they do ship to the USA).

Henry Kuska
Thanks for the very interesting background information on Illusion, Henry. I'm extremely pleased with how mine has performed in its first year in the desert, so it appears that this is a rose that takes both heat and cold relatively well. I'm also somewhat surprised that it hasn't been "discovered" by exhibitors, as I've already had it on the trophy table twice, and I only received mine from Pickering in 2004 (less than a year ago). With regard to its potential use in hybridizing, you raise good points. In fact, I should probably consider adding a second plant as well, given that the one I now have is located in the bed behind the sidewalk, outside the perimeter wall of the property -- not a great location for doing crosses or for counting on hips to develop without being disturbed by the local teenagers who take pleasure in destroying property.

Reply #2 of 5 posted 25 FEB 06 by Unregistered Guest
Great feedback on Illusion, Henry. I live in the Midwest, and am interested in climbers that are hardy and so disease resistant they don't need spraying. It sounds like Illusion fills the bill. One question: do you feel Illusion is particularly prickly/thorny? One web reviewer in California mentioned 'viscious' prickles. The reason I ask is that I intend to grow Illusion on an arbor under which people and dogs pass regularly. A rose with ordinary prickles is okay, but one that is considered 'viscious' is maybe not a good choice. What is your opinion? Thanks, Claire, St Louis, Missouri
Claire, when I read your question to Henry, my first thought was that I don't think of Illusion as having particularly wicked prickles. So I went outside and had a look, after which I decided to take a photo for you. While I'd still maintain that it's not a rose that has the most vicious of prickles, they're sufficiently tough that I might not choose to locate the plant in an area where children and dogs will more than likely bump into it (see photo).

Reply #4 of 5 posted 27 FEB 06 by Unregistered Guest
Thanks so much for responding, Cliff. The photo makes me think Illusion is too prickly for the arbor in question. It sounds like a fabulous rose, though; I will definitely keep it in mind for other areas!
My pleasure, Claire. I do believe it's well worth serious consideration for another spot!

Discussion id : 7-778
most recent 20 JUN 05 SHOW ALL
Initial post 6 MAR 05 by anonymous-4084
I agree! - Extremely clean foliage for a humid zone 7 area. Flowers are of nice form and there is a fragrance. Had a cold winter this year. As of today, March 6, 2005, all branches are budding out, even the smallest the size of pencil lead. Makes a great, thorny barrier that would most likely keep anything out (or in!) Love this hassle-free shrub/climber, it is wonderful.
And it's blooming its head off in hot, dry June desert heat (105-110F).
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