Recycled Retro Roses
Orange-Red Hybrid Tea
I like rescuing and recycling suburban roses from older gardens. I call them my 'retro roses' - hybrid teas from decades long gone, when scary chemicals ensured rose health, and rose pruning was an elitist activity for the (possibly male) experts.
Way Back Then...
Back in the 1950s and 60s suburban gardens in New Zealand were planted in a highly organised way, usually with a certain 'set' of popular hybrid tea roses. It was de rigeuer to have a Peace rose, bred to commemorate the end of World War Two.
To show loyalty to Britain and the Commonwealth, a stiff and stately Queen Elizabeth would be growing nearby. New Zealand did not adhere to the rigid British class-system, so Uncle Walter, the compulsory red in the bunch, would be the Queen's immediate neighbour.
Sixties and Seventies Roses
The swinging sixties even contributed slightly more 'daring' colours and names, like Whisky Mac. Favourite roses for the New Zealand suburban gardener in the 70s included the subtle apricot Just Joey and the fragrant Double Delight.
White rose lovers could worship the high-class Margaret Merrill, a rose still as popular as she was back then. Every garden had to have a bright yellow Freisia, too. This rose made sure that the garish dahlias (which were oh so popular) had some colour competition.
Old-style suburban gardens in New Zealand will still have these and other Hybrid Tea roses growing. I've dug out more than a few and relocated them here in my garden. I'm always surprised (and grateful) when they finally do flower.
Their names are usually unknown, however. I've learnt that rose identification involves so much more than peering at flower pictures on Google. There's fragrance, for example, which is so difficult to describe. And neglected recycled roses may need two or three summers to rebuild their shrub health. So I mightn't know for a while how tall the roses are.
Yet More Recycled Roses
Yippee! A friend has just given me eight more retro roses, including the white Virgo (I'm a Virgo, so we should get on) and Whisky Mac (OK, I'm not so keen on whisky). I have three Precious Platinums (still sporting some stunning red blooms), a Superstar, and a Barcarolle, plus others unnamed. They've all been pruned severely to knee-high, some in pots, some already in their new garden locations. I've carefully labelled the known varieties.
I Love Garden Surprises...
And now comes the best bit - I wait until late next spring to see exactly what I've got! These retro darlings may not now be available in nurseries, nor might I have chosen them. But I love garden surprises - don't you?