Finding Lost Roses

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A way to save old, rare roses from extinction is to look for them around the area in which you live.  Every region of the U.S. has roses, even Hawaii.  Of great value are old, found roses that are well adapted to local conditions.  They can be found in a number of places: in a neighbor’s yard, in a cemetery, around an abandoned homestead, etc.  Above are four examples of “found” roses.  When located and propagated each of these roses was given a collection name; a temporary or study name. This name will distinguish it from other roses until the plant is identified as to its original, true name, by experts.  When  describing these found plants in writing, the collection names are placed in double quotes.

The first picture is of a potted plant of “Charles Walker’s Lawrenciana” a rose found in the south by Mr. Walker.  The rose class Lawrenciana is an early classification for miniature roses brought from Asia during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Some hybridizing was done between varieties of these early miniature roses.  Nowadays it is very difficult to find any of them for sale in nurseries; few survive anywhere.  The San Jose Heritage Rose Garden collection holds a few of them and The Vintage Gardens collection in Sebastopol has several.  The Lawrencianas are everblooming in mild climates and are about as hardy as hybrid teas.

The second picture is of  “Thomasville Old Gold” a lovely true tea rose, found in Georgia years ago.  It has yet to be identified.  It grows to six feet in mild climates.  It blooms through the warm season and in winter in the desert.  Any rose classified as a true tea will grow well in USDA climate zones 7 to 11.

The third picture is of a rose I found in the garden of my new home in Corvallis Oregon.  It is shade tolerant and probably a member of the rambler class of roses.  (Ramblers are a class of climbing roses).  The great age of hybridizing ramblers was from about 1890 to 1930.  This plant blooms once a season and has beautiful fragrant flowers with disease resistant foliage.  I call it “Old Cottage Red Rambler”.

The fourth picture above is of “McClinton Tea”, a rose found in Texas by the folks at The Antique Rose Emporium nursery.  It is extremely fragrant, floriferous and a large plant to about seven feet.  It is a tea rose, so does best in USDA zones 7 to 11.  It has yet to be identified, but some rosarians think it may be either ‘Madame de Tartas’, or the true ‘Adam’.  In any case, this and all the roses above are worth growing and saving.

I urge you to collect, propagate and grow some of the unknown roses in your area.  It is important to save them, because so many old roses have been lost.  You might find a rare rose that has been thought to be extinct!  A good way to do this is to continually look for interesting roses.  When you do, ask the owner politely for cuttings.  Never uproot an entire plant.  Several rosarians collect cuttings with sharp shears, plastic bags and a cooler if the weather is hot.

The best way to take cuttings is cut them about 6 to 8 inches long (about the size of a pencil).  Cut from ripened wood.  A cutting made from the stem of a fading or finished bloom is excellent, or cuttings from dormant stems in late fall or winter.  Try to take 6 cuttings of each variety, marking the bag with a study name.  Once home, dip the ends of the cuttings in rooting gel or a paste made from powdered rooting compound and water.  Next place the cuttings up to half their length, removing lower leaves, in one of these various mediums: pure coarse, clean sand, or a mix of 1/2 peat and 1/2 perlite, or right into soil.  Then cover the cuttings with glass jars, or plastic bags over pots, or in a cold frame.  Do not place them in direct sun.  I have had the best luck out of doors in bright, but compete shade.  Cuttings can be easily struck by some of the new cloners or in a well-managed greenhouse.  See my last week’s blog post for links to the Heritage Rose Foundation and The Heritage Roses Group for additional information.  Another site with great information is helpmefind.com  Good luck!

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