HelpMeFind Roses, Clematis and Peonies
Roses, Clematis and Peonies
and everything gardening related.
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Karri Pigeon
(Sep 2010)  Page(s) 2.  Includes photo(s).
Patricia Routley: I first saw Blairii No. 2 in full bloom at the Jessie Calder Heritage Rose Garden in Invercargill in New Zealand in 2000. It was planted just behind a breathtaking marble statue of a mother and children and its great blooms nestled on the mother’s shoulders and garments, framing the whole statue. I can see it still. It was such an old rose that I never had the slightest hope that it would be in Australia. Yet one day in 2007 a friend sent me down cuttings from the plant at Araluen and I managed to strike it. I gave it a good position – sunny, some afternoon shade and the best soil I could provide. All that is required now is another fifty years to be able to get enough of it, for it only flowers in spring. ‘Blairii No. 2’ has been classed as bourbon rose, as well as a hybrid china, and the breeder was Mr. Thomas Blair who was a gardener to one Mr. Clay at Stamford Hill, UK. I wonder whether a mere gardener in 1845 had the temerity to introduce the roses he bred and I suspect it was his employer who named them in an attempt to honour his faithful and clever employee. Mr. Blair bred three roses – all with the same parentage (‘Parks’ Yellow Tea-Scented China’ 1824 x ‘Superb Tuscan’ –1837). ‘Blairii No. 2’ is a vigorous climber. Graham Thomas says 15’ and the rose I saw in Invercargill was about 10‘. Some authors, even the Rev. Dean Hole in 1906, and some gardeners (Yes, I have been guilty) cheekily refer to this rose as old “Bleary Eye”, but there is nothing bleary about it at all. The flowers are large, fully double, pink with deeper centres and edges that go distinctly pale. My memory tells me there are hints of mauve or blue in the pink but I am writing this about nine months since I last saw a bloom. Graham Thomas says “richly veined” and I do have one photo of my rose which shows some veining. The British Flower Garden reported that the petals were “frequently furnished with a white stripe along their middle” and this is a tell-tale characteristic of a china rose. The many flowers seem to nod gently with their own weight and on a background of the perfect, deep blue-green, firm leaves, the whole picture is voluptuous. The leaves are so perfect because the rose was bred long before the dastardly black spot entered the rose scene. The newer shoots are reddish or mahogany in colour and I wonder where this trait come from? Certainly not from a gallica. Rosarians seem to agree that this rose should never be pruned in the normal manner but that only dead wood should be cut out. I haven’t got a gorgeous statue for ‘Blairii No. 2’ to lean on, but have planted ‘Blue Moon Climbing’ right alongside and they are going to have to prop each other up. Just the thought of these two roses makes me long for spring.
(Feb 2010)  Page(s) 2.  Includes photo(s).
Patricia Routley: I’m so excited. Over in Nannup there used to grow two massive old tea roses. I believe they were ‘Mme. Lambard’ 1877 and ‘Lady Roberts’ 1902 (or is it ‘Anna Olivier’ 1872) and they were growing on the side of the road just north of the bridge. They were very well known and cruising past slowly just wasn’t an option on the curved approach to the bridge, so we used to stop and walk back to look at these lovely things more closely. Here is some background from Joe Twiss, Nannup, on these two roses. “James Kearney came out in 1869 from McCroom in County Cork, Ireland as a political prisoner and was housed in the Warder’s House at Nannup. Later, James married Kathryn and they lived in and re-named the Warder’s House, McCroom. Their son, Thomas, was born there in 1879. James Kearney was a cobbler who used to service the south west on horseback. McCroom was mostly washed away with the floods of 1955. James’ son, Thomas, later built ‘Old Templemore’ on the other side of the river. The remnants of the old building ‘McCroom’ are still there and the roses next to the road are possibly part of Kathryn’s garden”. Obviously I took cuttings. I loved those big teas so much, that in 2000 I wrote to the Nannup Shire Council asking them to preserve the two old teas by the Nannup Bridge. I received a polite but non-committal reply. Unfortunately, the roses are only just inside the fence of a private property and during the last five years, the pink ‘Mme. Lambard’ was severely sprayed to control the Morning Glory creeper that was out of control. It did not survive. The ‘Lady Roberts’ did and is still doing very well indeed for such an old rose. In April, 2007 I saw this rose again and it was a beautiful sight, and even the deadly blue Morning Glory vine threading its way through and flowering at the same time was forgiven, temporarily! To top off the picture, there were white blooms in amongst the yellow. I had never seen the white before and thought perhaps it was the weather, or a lack of some nutrient. Last October 25, I stopped by again. There were the white flowers and I took one cutting that was showing a white bloom. I was able to see roots on this one cutting on November 23, and it is now producing its first flower. And yes!! It is white. In the bud stage, it has a basal colouring of yellow, but opens to white. Temporarily I have put a study name of “Blanche Roberts” on it, but I am wondering if it could be the white, lemon centered ‘Mrs. Stephen Treseder’ resurfacing again. That was an 1889 sport of ‘Anna Olivier’ which has disappeared from commerce.
(Aug 2008)  Page(s) 10.  
Patricia Routley: I have a red rambling rose called Bloomfield Courage growing on a fence here and the same rose grows at the old tea rooms on Muirillup Road. Unfortunately, Northcliffe with its cloudy skies is not its spiritual home, although it certainly grows better at the old tea rooms than it does at our place. This rose, growing in the hot alkaline conditions at Renmark, South Australia, is the most famous rose in Australia and there it grows massively over a huge arch and captivates all who see it in full flower. I walked happily under it to go and lunch nearby in the garden with other rosarians in 2003 and seeing it in full flower like that, is one of my treasured memories. My bush came as a cutting from the Pinjarra Heritage Rose Garden in 1998 and I put it on a fence at the far corner and the only attention it ever had is a nibble or two from the kangaroos, so it is probably no wonder it never reached the Renmark proportions. ‘Bloomfield Courage’ is a dark green leaved, wichuraiana rambler that has a long flowering season of about four to six weeks. It is thin caned, and almost thornless and in the right climate, produces excessively long canes off its old wood with relatively few basal breaks. It has a different form from the thicket of basal canes that the other wich’s, 'Excelsa' and 'Dorothy Perkins' produce, so with this one, preserve those old main trunks. It can climb a tree and can quickly get out of hand on a pillar or an arch, so perhaps the kangaroos were doing me a favour. The blackish scarlet, five-petalled flowers are only about 3cm wide but the plant is so floriferous that it is literally covered with blossom like dark crimson butterflies. It is said to have white centers with prominent yellow stamens, but all I recall (in the depths of winter) is the crimson effect. It blooms in graceful, open clusters of up to twenty-five blossoms. Like most of the wichuraiana roses, it has no scent. It is best not to deadhead, as that will remove the wonderful hips that appear in winter. This simple rose has an airy look and I like it planted on its own where it is not overpowered by anything more showy. It looks good with a backdrop of conifers and is simple to propagate from cuttings. ‘Bloomfield Courage’ was created in 1925 (about the same time as Northcliffe) by an American, Captain George C. Thomas, Jr., who named it after his family estate, Bloomfield, in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. It was a combination of R. wichuraiana and ‘Turner’s Crimson Rambler’, (see – there is that famous ancestor appearing yet again) There were over 40 roses bearing the Bloomfield name and it is said that his wife burned all the Captain’s roses, books and manuscripts the day after he died. Methinks he spent perhaps a little too much time out there with the roses.
(Apr 2010)  Page(s) 2.  Includes photo(s).
Patricia Routley: A friend, Julie Lack in Queensland, wrote to me in 2007 talking about Borderer and I had to reply “Sorry, Julie, I don't grow the rose so don't know it”. She came back with “You really should grow it, I rate it as one of the top 5 roses in my garden, very easy from cutting. The colour is very variable depending on the weather and time of year, but it is always a very full little bloom with a button eye.” Well, after that recommendation, I had to ask around for wood and on February 10, 2009 (mid summer you will note), another friend sent me down cuttings and by March 7, I had two little plants with good healthy roots. By November they were flowering and they haven’t really stopped all summer. I recall I decided not to get it years ago when I was making two gardens – one pink and one yellow. The description of ‘Borderer’ was basically pink and yellow and I thought it would not be right for either garden. How wrong I was and I therefore stupidly missed out on years of pleasure from this sweet little rose. Alister Clark (1864-1949), the famous Australian rose breeder bred it in 1918. He disclosed the seed parent as ‘Jersey Beauty’, a wichuraiana rambler which had a yellow tea rose in its parentage. We don’t know the pollen parent of ‘Borderer’ and perhaps only a wayward bee once knew that. The actual colour was often described as pink, copper (or salmon) and amber (or buff or fawn) and all those colours seem about right, although it was also said to have a different shade at different seasons. The reverse is paler and the autumn colours do seem to be darker than those of summer. The 6cm blooms are double and the 50 petals are pleated down the center and seem to nestle into each other. Sometimes the blooms have a button eye and are quilled. It is an unusual shape, but so dainty. ‘Borderer’ is dwarf growing, exactly suiting its name and I intend to grow many cuttings and put them in the front of the beds about a metre apart. I gather the height is going to be about 40cm. Alister himself said “I rejoice to find scent in many of our Australian roses, particularly ‘Borderer’. Apparently some people can smell apple or musk in it, but because it is low and I can no longer get down there, I will take their word for it. After 92 years ‘Borderer’ is still a superb garden plant and this is why it never really got itself lost over the decades. Susan Irvine did much to bring it back into its rightful place again – at the front of the bed. Why do they bother producing the modern ground-cover roses when this charming and quite beautiful little rose from 1918 will out-perform them all.
(Oct 2008)  Page(s) 3.  Includes photo(s).
Patricia Routley: ......The writer may also forget that she is supposed to write about just one rose and so I will stop waxing and tell you about a foundling rose. ["Brooks Rose"] My bushes are 6-7 ft tall, with lax canes and straight thorns lower down, but the upper branches seem reasonably thorn free. I never prune it, only ever cutting out any dead canes right at the base. It has soft foliage and blooms of lavender pink, very cupped by the outer petals and flattened in a dense swirl. There is a pointel of pale yellow-green in the center. The leafy, foliated sepals cradle the flower and a bud is a very pretty thing. The flowers come in clusters and when the temperature rises a little and rain falls, those clusters can be a nest of pink and brown as the outer petals stick and refuse to let the flower open. I can only advise you to walk quickly past then, and wait for the last blooms when the weather is dry. Then – it is a rose to die for. This rose turns up all over the place. I am sure the pioneering women zealously nurtured and shared this lovely old thing because of its perfume. I collected it from three different places and one of them was on a Denmark fence. Those blooms scented the car for the rest of the journey home and I cradled them in my lap and stared at them for 140 ks. It has been found all over Australia and people gave it their own different “study names”. It still grows on Mrs. Pat Law’s front fence on the bend in Banksia Street, and will be coming into bloom as you read this. What is it called? I don’t know. I don’t even know what class of rose it is. I used to call it R. centifolia ‘Provence’; Others throughout Australia call it De la Grifferaie; Gwen Fagan in South Africa calls a similar rose ‘Blush damask’; and the international website have two good pictures of a similar rose (with buds) under the name ‘Charles Lawson’, 1853. The 13 years of study gently continues.
(Oct 2012)  Page(s) 2.  
Patricia Routley: There is a house in Bridgetown with a heritage garden that is listed with the National Trust. Moyola is high on the hill on Turner Road with spectacular views and I visited once in 2000. I know it had trees that had been planted in 1930, large topiary, and some old roses that I admired. It must have been Margaret Rothery, the owner, who gave me cuttings of a wonderful red hybrid tea and this later struck for me. I planted it in the new Bonbon garden outside my study window and it grew almost by itself with no special attention from me. I went on to plant hundreds more roses and in my rush, saw out of the corner of my eye that the unnamed rose I was calling “Moyola” occasionally produced some very lovely blooms. But I never really stopped and looked closely at it, until I took some photographs in 2010. During this last year I have become fascinated with dark red roses and have gone to my books and typed up much in my search for more information. As I typed up a 1947 hybrid tea ‘Charles Mallerin, bred by Francis Meilland, the penny began to drop that so many of its attributes were exactly the same as my foundling “Moyola” and this identification has since been confirmed on the website It is a lover of sunshine and warm summers and has an incredible damask perfume, about 40 thickish petals which open to a six-inch, flat bloom of richly textured blackish crimson – sometimes! The tragedy with this rose is that it is a sparse bloomer, and it is an ugly grower. It put up one long thick stem for me and then it bloomed on little laterals off this main stem. It doesn’t matter how much you feed this rose it just wants to do its own thing and its own thing is a tall, lopsided and awkward habit of growth. Then it will lose its lower leaves quickly, leaving a prickly, bare and naked cane. It produces few basal canes so the bush is not a pretty sight. But oh, I would not now be without it, for it is that occasional bloom that has me in its spell. It is surrounded by petals of black velvet that one instinctively wants to touch and feel. These black petals are tipped with crimson and there is a lighter crimson effect in the middle of all this black sheen. In 1953 it was described as “A dark velvety red, wonderful, ravishing, glorious, a man's red rose, a red that stops visitors in their tracks” - and it still is. ‘Charles Mallerin’ was named after the breeder’s old mentor in rose growing who was also one of the greatest hybridists in Europe. The parentage of the rose was [‘Rome Glory’ x ‘Congo’] x ‘Tassin’. ‘Charles Mallerin’ itself has been a valuable parent, giving us such roses as ‘Papa Meilland’, ‘Mister Lincoln’ and Oklahoma’. These dark red, velvety roses with strong fragrance leave me speechless with admiration. They are voluptuous and are roses for white damask tablecloths with candles and long evenings with your best friend.
(Jun 2014)  Page(s) 2.  Includes photo(s).
Patricia Routley: I have two pale yellow noisette roses that came into my garden from separate old properties. I believe them to be Chromatella 1830 bred by M. Coquereau of Angers in France and introduced there in 1842 by Vibert. It was introduced a year later in England by T. Rivers as ‘Cloth of Gold’. My first plant came as a cutting in 2004 that Natalee Kuser had struck from the much beloved old plant at Hill Farm on the southern side of Bridgetown. The owner, Eileen Giblett, (who was 83 years old then), later told me her mother had planted the rose which had been brought in from their previous old farm. So it came to me with a degree of history and a surrounding aura of love, and the name that had been passed on – ‘Cloth of Gold’. Rose Marsh in Kojonup posted over my second plant to me as a cutting in 2005 and she had acquired her plant from the 60-year old rose at the Bilney property. This one was study-named “Ron Bilney’s Yellow Climber”. Both my plants turned out to be the same and they took a few years to settle in. ‘Chromatella’ had a reputation of not blooming really well until it is quite established. Because most people avoid difficult-to-pronounce names, ‘Chromatella’ was very rarely used and the name ‘Cloth of Gold’ was much preferred by many. It was easier to remember, easier to say, and it gave mental pictures of sheets of colour for the garden. For a deep yellow rose, ‘Cloth of Gold’ would have been a superb name but unfortunately every time someone found a beautiful yellow rose, they mentally grabbed that lovely phrase and pronounced their foundling rose ‘Cloth of Gold’. There was much later confusion with yellow climbing roses. Mostly I like to stick to the original name given to a rose by the breeder. To me, the name ‘Chromatella’ brings thoughts of the chrome of bumper bars of cars, reflecting pale early morning sunshine. The prefix chrom is from early Greek, meaning colour. The tella? The dictionary tells me about the Latin world tellus meaning the earth. Imagination runs riot here and I can only presume Mons. Coquereau had fond memories of some beach sand when he named this pale yellow rose. My rose has shown purple canes (mentioned in an 1864 reference) and a slight zigzagging trait that is often shown by the noisette roses. It has clusters of large 9.5cm blooms, a square-ish receptacle and a glandular pedicel. The clean and smooth leaves fold up from the midrib and are very pointed with acuminate tips. There are a few large red thorns that age to black. This noisette rose should not be pruned at all. ‘Chromatella’ surprised me once when I was working busily, head down, bottom up at some weeding or reticulation matter. When standing up to stretch and straighten the back muscles, I was suddenly confronted with a lone specimen of the most beautiful bloom imaginable. It came at a time when all other roses had been and gone, and the unexpected beauty was truly a gift.
(Feb 2009)  Page(s) 3.  Includes photo(s).
Patricia Routley: Mrs. Sheila Gravett, who lived halfway between Northcliffe and Manjimup, became a very dear friend of mine for a too-brief number of years. She had a whole garden full of old roses and I was always welcomed when I came to take cuttings of yet more roses. Climbing General MacArthur was standing at the back of the shed, overseeing the bull paddock and why Sheila planted him there, so far from the path I don’t know for she knew the rose’s fragrance well. But I have done the same here and it is a joy to wander over to look at and smell this rose. I unhesitatingly say that it is my most fragrant rose and I seem to smell a blend of musk and damask. The parentage of the 1905 ‘General MacArthur’ bush rose, bred by E. G. Hill, USA, is not known, but it may have come from the 1897 ‘Gruss an Teplitz’. (Australia’s Alister Clark noticed that both these roses set a hip for every flower that opens.) England had simply loved it and from 1920 to 1923 it was number one in the rose popularity charts there. Someone then noticed part of a rose growing madly and they cloned it and Dickson, UK put ‘Climbing General MacArthur’ on the market in 1923. Colour in roses varies according to soils and conditions, and crimson, red, pale carmine, and once even a “red cabbage” colour have been used to describe ‘General MacArthur’. Mine are possibly a light crimson-cerise. They have about 30 broad petals that open to loose, cup-shaped blooms and hold their form before dropping cleanly. They were said to “blue” but I haven’t particularly noticed this “blueing” in my climber. There are about three or four flowering periods during the season, but between these periods the rose is usually flowerless. They are not affected at all by the rain so the best times are the spring and autumn flowering when the soil is damp. It doesn’t really like the heat and was no good in California and Texas. But it did very well in Scotland and England - and Northcliffe. It seems to be tolerant of poor, heavy soils and I am so grateful for roses that are. My two bushes are a bit bare about the legs, but the rose doesn’t need support and stands up strongly by itself, making a graceful arching tall bush. It is a bit thorny too and gets a little die-back, but nothing the General and I can’t handle. One bush is competing with the karris and doing well for such an old fellow. I would love to see it growing in perfect conditions. ‘General MacArthur’ was often compared with ‘Richmond’, another dark red also bred by E. G. Hill in the same (1905) year and ‘Richmond’ also sported to a climbing version in 1912. My rose wasn’t named for the “I shall return” General of Philippines fame, but for his father, Lieutenant-General Arthur MacArthur who lived from 1845 to 1912. As I said - my most fragrant rose.
(Jun 2011)  Page(s) 2.  Includes photo(s).
February 23, 2011. [To] Patricia Routley, I am enclosing a flower of a rose that has been in our care since the early 1900s. It originally came from the Nannup area – when my Grandma’s sister gave it to her. My grandma Emma Blackburn was married in Jarrahdale in 1897 and the rose given to her soon after by Annie Scott who lived around Nannup. This rose throughout the years has been kept in the family by cuttings, which seems quite easy to grow according to my husband. We call this rose “Nanny’s Rose” because we remember my mother always having it in her garden and now most of the family has it too. I am almost 85 years old and can remember always having it around. We were hoping you may be able to name this specimen correctly, but we are so used to calling it “Nanny’s Rose” it would be hard to change. Your column in the Karri Pigeon is very interesting to us. Thank you. Emma Douglas, Dwellingup,

February 26, 2011. My dear Emma Douglas,
How wonderful it was to receive your little Lipton tea bag box containing the two blooms and your letter..... I believe your dear little rose is Clotilde Soupert, a 1889 polyantha bred by Soupert and Notting, in Luxembourg. I am reasonably sure because I also have, what we believe is ‘Clotilde Soupert ‘ and I have gone to the books and typed up a fair amount of what is available on the rose. There are some typings and photos attached. The Christian name has been variously spelt - Clothilde, Clotilde, Clothilda, Chlotilde - as different ladies and authors in different countries subtract or add a letter according to their custom. ‘Clothilde Soupert’ was certainly listed by two Victorian nurseries in 1894 and 1897 and a last minute search shows that Hawter’s Nurseries at Mullalyup were listing the rose in their 1909 catalogue. My rose came from South Australia where the only legal way to get it was for my South Australian friend to take budwood to a nursery and get it budded and posted over here. They put it on R. multiflora rootstock and it has struggled here for the past six years. I am enormously pleased to say that I have at last struck a piece from a bit of wood I took on January 5 and it now has roots and leaves and is growing well. I would love to have a couple of cuttings of your rose and if they strike, I could place them right next door to my little ‘Clotilde Soupert’ (there is room) and in a couple of years, we could definitely say they are the same rose. Send them any time when you have spare wood – I have developed a magic method of striking cuttings in plastic drink glasses placed inside a polystyrene foam box with a sheet of glass on the top. Instant hothouse! And because of the clear plastic glasses, as soon as I see the roots, I can pot them up straight away. I love this small co-incidence. You sent the blooms to me in a Lipton tea bag packet, And in 1900 ‘Clotilde Soupert’ was the pollen parent of a hybrid rugosa rose named ‘Sir Thomas Lipton’. In English-speak: Clotilde was the father of a child called ‘Sir Thomas Lipton’. (I can find co-incidences in anything.) Patricia Routley, Northcliffe.
(Sep 2009)  Page(s) 3.  Includes photo(s).
Patricia Routley: An English florist, Mrs. Constance Spry (1886-1960) so loved old roses that she gathered together in the 1930s and 1940s varieties, which even then were hard to find. She was also a talented flower arranger and wrote many books on this subject. She loved the richness of the old roses and arranged them in ornate vases and urns on satin cloths and polished wooden tables, but she was innovative enough to realize that style was not for all, especially in the war years. During and after the war, Mrs. Spry traveled extensively, giving talks to women on how to bring beauty into their austere, war-torn homes and lives. When the distinguished gardening book author, Graham Stuart Thomas, began to gather his old roses around him, he included his friend, Constance Spry’s roses. Mrs. Spry also influenced another up-and-coming young rose breeder, David Austin, who named his first rose after this lady and it was the first in the unending line of beautiful English roses. Constance Spry was bred from ‘Belle Isis’, c1845 (a spring-only gallica) x ‘Dainty Maid’ 1938 (a repeating floribunda) and released in 1961. ‘Constance Spry’ is a climber with large, many-petaled, rich pink flowers that are myrrh-scented. Myrrh is an aniseed-type fragrance from two sources: the herb Sweet Cicely Myrrhis odorata, and a small East African and Arabian tree Commiphora myrrha - it is a fragrance that one either likes or dislikes. I actually love the fragrance but its original use was as a fragrance to wash and cleanse corpses before burial. (The scent of one flower may make the heart leap, another brings tears, and in quicker time than the mind takes to find the reason for the tears.) Mr. Thomas and Mr. Austin believed the myrrh scent might have come from the ‘Ayrshire Splendens’ rose through ‘Belle Isis’. I have two bushes of ‘Constance Spry’, one on probably R. fortuniana rootstock, and the other on its own roots from the Pinjarra Heritage Rose Garden. The rose on rootstock has grown up a small walnut tree and the own-roots rose is a vast 7 feet high shrub. ‘Constance Spry’ only flowers in spring and I look forward every year to walking past the walnut tree with a visitor and saying “look up”. The rose is a bit prickly but I have never actually pruned either bush, just cutting out any dead wood, so I am never bothered about prickles. The roses have never been watered either after the first year or two, and they get on beautifully all by themselves. I have all of Mrs. Spry’s books on my bookshelf and am very happy to have “her” rose out in my garden. Here is a thought from her ‘Garden Notebook’.
If something is completely beautiful I am perfectly happy to behold it and then let it go; even though you may think you forget it you never do, and often when your mind appears to be entirely remote from it a vision will suddenly spring up and you see it again.
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