“The intransigence of roses is something we have had to accept, and now … I know which are docile and benevolent from those which are headstrong; those that are pliant from those which are pig-headed.”

After considerable time tending roses, I now realise first-hand that Mirabel Osler’s statement is incredibly accurate. The research before purchasing roses has meant that most roses have been a dream to nurture; upright, generous and elegant. Their prolific blooms in gorgeous colours are amiable even with the prickles, but on occasions, after the arrival in winter as an innocent bare root rose they can so easily become wild, obstinate and unruly. Despite my meticulous planning to only give access to the garden to the more compliant species, recalcitrant roses still beat me occasionally.

The Love Affair blooms and foliage create an old-world charm if only they would be more acquiescent and obliging to my wishes. Why do they have to grow in such long unmanageable canes that fall all about or scream towards the sky when they are not, after all, a climbing rose?

I planted the Love Affair roses to grow all along the front of the farmhouse sunroom window, expecting them to be upright, compact and bushy, filling the low spaces with glorious pink buds and rose blooms that could be admired inside. The roses are lovely with beautiful, strong, dark green foliage but have yet to grow into the compact, dense, bushy plants I envisaged. Instead, these long canes extend out like a climbing rose and fall across the lawn.

Several roses have been banished over the years like unruly children in a classroom, leaving the garden a haven of peace and serenity. The position under the front window requires a compact rose that will not grow so tall as to block the view from inside so very soon, it is a moving day. The roses will not be destroyed but relocated to a more secluded position where the feral canes can grow untamed by constant pruning and staking, letting them flower uninhibited.

 I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.

Eleanor Roosevelt

The play of colour in the Love Affair roses is wonderful as the large rosettes are pink and apricot with particularly gorgeous buds set off by some of the loveliest green foliage in the garden. I am learning the hard way what the rose grower’s descriptions actually mean. This one is described as “compact with strong upright canes on a dense bush”. There are certainly strong upright single canes, and Love Affair is an extremely pretty, old-fashioned looking rose with a romantic name, full of charm, but not for this position.

The Love Affair rose was bred by W Kordes & Sons in Germany in 2004 and was sold in Germany in 2018 as Amaretto, then introduced into Australia in 2022 as Love Affair. It is a floribunda rose with the registration name KORaugneru.


“My life is part humor, part roses, part thorns.”

Bret Michaels

Another rose recently transplanted, now its true nature is evident, is Starburst -KORbimsala. An unusual rose with flowers that begin yellow to cream and soft pink, then become splashed with red and deep pink whilst the base colour goes white. They are produced in clusters and stay beautiful to the very end of flowering.

“One rose says more than the dozen.”

Wendy Craig

The bees love Starburst blooms, and the bush is ultra-healthy and robust. The key word in the grower’s description is “the relaxed bush,” which means it is larger than expected but remains upright and bushy. Once Starburst got going it required staking to stay together. I had planted Starburst in my potager round garden but realised it would be far too large and now is in pride of place in the centre of the main garden with plenty of room for the “relaxed growth.”

Starburst is a red blend Grandiflora rose with rich deep green foliage bred by Alain Meilland and Marie-Louise Meilland in France before 1967 and then bred by W. Kordes & Sons -Germany, before 2020. Starburst was introduced to Australia by Treloar Roses as a new release rose in 2022; Starburst.

Carmagnole is a Delbard shrub rose with beautiful blooms that I planted at the start of the garden, but it was lost during the drought several years ago. The flowers are glorious in a lovely cream that fades to white, and the outside petals are flushed with pink brush strokes that fade to a soft pastel pink as they age. Beautiful it may be, but do not be fooled; it is uncompromising in its steadfast, dense and impassable growth.

Courtesy of Pinterest

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Alphonse Karr, Lettres Écrites De Mon Jardin

Carmagnole is described as having “huge thorns and is a good impenetrable hedge” because of the sturdy, vigorous growth. That is so true and is no understatement. The growers say the hedge would keep ” both man and beast well away”. Although I read this description, I never realised the extent of the strong growth until Carmagnole was in the garden. My recollection of this rose is precisely that; a very healthy rose but hard to manage with the large thorns and strong canes, so this time, I am planting a standard rose in winter that should be easier to handle except at pruning time.

“Love thou the rose, yet leave it on its stem.”

Edward Bulwer-Lytton, A Night in Italy

André Delbard-Chabert was the breeder of the Carmagnole rose in France in 1990, from Milrose ® × Légion d’Honneur® seed and Zambra ® × Orange Sensation ® pollen. Carmagnole is named after a French song sung by the rebels during the French Revolution of the 18th Century, and the registration name is DELrobla. Carmagnole is a Floribunda from the Couture Collection.
The roses on Carmagnole bloom in flushes all season in ivory white and pink as described above but have little to no fragrance. The bush is extremely healthy, strong and disease-resistant, so, very low maintenance and beautiful.

Carmagnole Rose courtesy of Wikimedia.org

Roses are released yearly to entice us to plant them in our gardens. The new varieties the breeders have carefully trialled for years before releasing them into the market are welcome, addictive and sought after by rose enthusiasts alike. We are akin to a child in the lolly shop, unable to decide what we want from the array of colours, shapes and sizes. Not to mention te enticing perfume. The description on the rose label is vital, and after some trial and error, the words hold clues to the nature of each rose and how the roses will behave in our gardens. There are so many to choose from. I found this story recently when researching the Victorian State Rose Garden and was amazed at how the number of roses increased from 1596 to 2010.

Each year at the Victorian State Rose Garden they replace at least five beds of roses and I quote

Our Selection Committee has the glorious job of selecting the new varieties that will go in.  They have the choice from the Trial Beds and they have read all the literature and make a choice. The choice is based on height, vigour, colour and best mass display.  They then sell their choices to Council and we get to enjoy the result.

 Imagine if you are in Europe in 1596.  A French nurseryman, Gerard, produces a catalogue for your selection.  It lists 16 roses (and 225 carnations and 437 tulips).

 By 1800, catalogues have increased to 100 varieties, because of the start of importation of China roses and crossbreeding from them.  In 1814 Empress Josephine claims to have a complete collection of 250 roses in her garden at Malmaison.  Du Pont, a famous Belgian rose breeder, offered his collection of rose hybrids to the Palais Luxembourg, and by the 1850s they had 1800 different species and varieties.

 Then there was an explosion.  Botanica Encyclopedia of Roses., published in 1998 lists 7000 varieties.  Modern Roses 12 of 2010 lists over 30,000 roses by registered names, with about 3000 new registrations each year.

I don’t feel so bad now, even though my garden has 200+ rose varieties at the last count, down from the initial number of 308 before the drought. My motto is ‘There is always room for more.’

Title quote by Mirabel Osler

All content Di Baker May 2023

Images from the garden by Di Baker with the exception of

Carmagnole roses from Wikimedia.org and as cited

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