“The colour of spring is in the flowers; the colour of winter is in the imagination.”

As I walk through the garden now with winter well and truly here, I am surprised to still see beautiful rose blooms opening despite the cold mornings and nights. The tenacity of some of the roses is remarkable, refusing to give up and rest.

When my eyes rove across the garden they don’t see what is there but my imagination sees what will be in a few weeks and months’ time. There are many plants to move once they finish flowering. The bees are prolific and constant in the garden so it’s too early to relocate the perennials from my garden plan to their new position just yet. Although I’m impatient to get started.

A flower blossoms for its own joy.

Oscar Wilde

The garden generally because it is predominately roses, is bleak in winter except for the delicate heads of French Lavender, the pure white Lobularia and purple Salvia or other late-flowering perennials pictured below. Winter brings to the surrounding rural areas a bucolic landscape of lush paddocks and new-season crops. Then in the home garden are glimpses of bright rose blooms that, in some cases, are more vibrant than the summer blooms, or perhaps against the winter landscape they stand out more. Admittedly the foliage is in tatters, especially after so much rain, and not all flowers are perfect, but the colours are gorgeous.

One rose that looks better than ever over the entire season is Eliza ( Korlis ), an upright, stunning, clear pink rose with exhibition-style blooms on long stems that are so easy to pick for a vase. It has glossy, dark green leaves, and beautiful pink blooms. Presently Eliza stands out brilliantly in the winter landscape, not perfectly formed but a gorgeous colour.

Flowers are happy things

P G Woodhouse

Wilhelm Kordes III bred the Eliza rose in Germany before 1994. It is a Florist Rose, Hybrid Tea from the Kordes Freelander® Collection and features a mild fragrance, crystal clear pink blooms, and large long pointed Ovid-shaped buds that will flower in flushes throughout the season. My Eliza rose has been growing for at least four years and is 150 cm tall and upright, and it is expected to grow up to 210 cm or between 3′ to 7′ tall.

Duet Rose

Duet rose is still out in flower too and is an easy-to-grow hybrid tea rose cultivated for 50 years or since 1960. It was bred by Herbert C. Swim in the United States and introduced to Australia by an unknown rose grower in 1961.

The rose blooms are on long straight stems in two tones of pink, so a darker pink reverse and the flowers are primarily single but sometimes also in clusters. The best feature of Duet is it continually flowers all season long, from spring to early winter, when spent blooms are removed. Duet has even now at least eight to ten blooms out. It grows upright and has dark green leathery foliage- always a good sign of disease resistance. Duet at full maturity may grow between 150 cm to 200 cm and has a soft tea rose scent.

There are always flowers for those that want to see them

Henri Matisse

A spectacular new release in 2020 from Treloar’s and another striped rose is Starburst – Korbimsala, pictured in flower this week. It is a softer version than the usual more vibrant reddish-pink and yellow summer bloom but a great splash of colour. This rose has large clusters of blooms that remain beautiful right until the petals fall. It is a Kordes rose available from Treloar’s and it will grow to 120 cm tall.

A winter Starburst bloom

The preparation for Spring continues and the majority of the garden is now weeded, mulched and nutrients added through spreading Neutrog’s whoflungdung. I’ve basically given up on rose management at present and leaving them to their task of going dormant but as you can see from this week’s blooms some roses don’t know when to stop. The basic tasks for winter are weeding- fertilising ( not roses) or soil conditioning, mulching, filling empty spaces, pruning, and removing dead plants or debris so always much to do.

Winter blooms, make you forget It’s cold

The Peace Rose

New-season bare-root roses will be arriving soon; this week, I received a small order from Magic Gardens, including the Harry Wheatcroft rose. So, it will not be long now for planting time. The Harry Wheatcroft rose is another to add to the striped rose collection. This rose is a sport of the rose Piccadilly and has high-centred blooms and a strong fragrance, and glossy light green foliage with flamboyant orange and red blooms and splashes of golden yellow. It was discovered by Harry Wheatcroft & Sons Ltd. in the UK in 1972 and introduced to Australia in 1975 as Harry Wheatcroft, a yellow blend hybrid tea rose.

Harry Wheatcroft was a famous English rose grower who was an outspoken, unique character, a lifelong pacifist and a socialist who was loved by the media. He adored roses and was exuberant in selling and promoting colourful hybrid teas. He was, however, a man with a ready wit and left-wing political views who travelled extensively. He was a salesman, an author, a TV presenter and a promoter of roses for the home gardener. He was imprisoned for refusing to fight in WW1 in 1916 aged 18. He was released early due to ill health and told to work in the open air. He joined up with his brother Alfred, a horticulturist, and together they established Wheatcroft Brothers on an acre of rocky cheap land outside Nottinghamshire. By the 1920s, Harry and his wife, in a gypsy caravan called ‘rambling rose’, travelled the country to every rose show to promote their roses- 50,000 were growing at this stage. Just before WW11, the nursery had developed to 14 acres and had 600,000 rose bushes, but the war required that the land be turned over to food production. After the war ended, they were back to the start again, having to search for rootstocks from friends’ gardens.

In 1962 Harry split from his brother and opened a nursery with his sons, and because of his flamboyant character, Harry was often mistaken for a rose breeder rather than a promoter. By the end of the 1960s, they were selling 1.5 million rose bushes worldwide from the Nottingham nursery.

Harry Wheatcroft’s lasting legacy is for introducing the Peace Rose to the UK, and Queen Elizabeth rose in 1952. He was honoured in 1972 by the Royal Horticultural Society with the Victoria Medal of Honour, and in 1973 he was awarded the Royal National Rose Society’s Dean Hole medal.

Harry Wheatcroft, in the last years of his life, travelled and lectured extensively, wrote books and promoted roses. His television appearances meant he became a well-known eccentric public figure often seen in his Rolls Royce, wearing colourful clothes and his face a common sight on advertising and plant labels whilst his sons ran the nursery side of the business. He died in 1977 and will be remembered by this highly colourful red, orange and yellow rose.

The last few days have been very mild here for June, so it’s no wonder the roses appear confused, with no frost to speak of and sunny warm days, so I can understand why the roses continue to flower. In some cases, the blooms are entirely different, softer, more subdued colours like this Seduction rose below, showing just touches of pink on the cream petals.

Winter Seduction Rose

Content Di Baker

Images Di Baker with the exception of the Harry Wheatcroft images courtesy of Wikimedia.org

Title quote by Ward Elliot Hour

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