North Central District American Rose Society

The Pink Ladies Lead the Rose Parade

The Pink Ladies lead the rose parade in June

With their high born names like Madame Alfred Carriere, Louise Odier, Rose de Rescht and Souv du Docteur Jamain, our collection of 30 old garden Roses (OGR's) sound like a group of persnickety, pampered aristocrats. However nothing could be further from the truth. On our farm in southeastern Wisconsin, the old garden roses are among the first to emege in spring. New canes and buds start appearing in early April, pushing through the thick layer of leaf mulch that protected them through our long zone 5 winter. They confidently unfurl their new leaves with little fear of the desiccating spring winds or the inevitable frosts that can occur well into May.

Pink Ladies Pink Roses

Their names belie their sturdy and resilient nature. They do however, in keeping with their social status and their propensity to sprawl, occupy their own private piece of real estate on the property. They are all planted in a raised fieldstone bed that extends along the wall of our barn. The wall's protection perhaps plays a bigger role in their bold behavior than their ancient lineage, but nonetheless, they are a self assured group. In early June, having taken full advantage of their posh location, they are ready for show time. Almost overnight they burst into full bloom in breathtaking shades of glorious pink, raspberry and crimson. I introduce them to everyone as The Pink Ladies (my apologies to Baron Prevost, Paul Neyron and Ferdinand Pichard!) because the blossom-covered bushes remind me of ballgowns and because I have difficulty prouncing their fancy names.

Old garden roses, according to the American Rose Society, are roses whose class was in existance before 1867, the year "La France" was introduced as the first hybrid tea. While there are many different classifications of OGR's, many of them share a common "stop you in your tracks": chracteristic...fragrance! They are also pretty hardy, prolific and relatively disease resistant. Blackspot is rarely an issue, but we sometimes battle powdery mildew on them in July and August.

All of our OGR's are repeat bloomers, except for two exceptional striped roses, r. Gallica Versicolor (Rosa Mundi) and Variegata de Bologna. Their hundreds of gorgeous pink and white blooms are worth every minute of their short, once-a-year display. After the spectacular June bloom, we prune aggresively because The Pink Ladies have a tendency to take over. Once settled back into place, they bloom regularly throughout the summer providing plenty of blooms to share and show.