A Thanksgiving column for you–about the sublime rose ‘Aloha,’ for which I am most thankful. Even more so, I am thankful for my family—our son Alex is arriving home from college this afternoon, then later in the afternoon, my dear mother-and father-in-law from Cincinnati, and then darling daughter tonight on the train from NYC. I count my blessings each and every day, but I am especially grateful that this Thanksgiving my husband and I can share this most special of holidays with our family. I hope with all my heart you have a joyful Thanksgiving.
Warmest wishes, Kim
P.S. Programming notes ~ Two specials that I produced are airing on Cape Ann TV this week and they are The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate and The Greasy Pole Fall Classic (see previous post re Greasy Pole schedule).
Program schedule for The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate airing on Channel 12, Cape Ann TV:
Monday, November 21 at 8:00 pm
Tuesday, November 22 at 2:30 am and 10:30 pm
Saturday, November 26 at 8:00 pm
The French have a beautiful sounding word for a repeat flowering rose and, without doubt, the most remontant rose that we grow is ‘Aloha.’ Embowering our front porch pillars, she welcomes with her fresh-hued beauty.‘Aloha’ begins the season in a great flush, followed by a brief rest, and then continues non-stop, typically through November, and in one recent, relatively mild autumn, into December. I like her so very much that I planted a second and then third and they are all three sited where we can enjoy her great gifts daily.
‘Aloha’s’ buds are full and shapely, and colored carmine rose with vermilion undertones, giving us a preview of nuanced shades to come. She unfurls to form large, quartered, and subtly two-toned blossoms, initially opening in shades of clear rose-pink with a deeper carmine pink on the reverse, or underside of the petals. The blossoms are long lasting, fading to a lovely shade of pale coral pink. And the petals fall loosely, never becoming balled clumps. With luxuriously long stems and shiny emerald foliage, ‘Aloha’ also makes a divine cut flower.
Oh, and I can’t believe I am several paragraphs in and haven’t yet mentioned her fragrance. She not only welcomes with her great beauty, but also with her potent and dreamy scent. I’ve often heard ‘Aloha’ described as having a green apple fragrance, but find that description only partially accurate; the scent is really much more sophisticated, with notes not only of fresh Granny Smith apple, but also the warm sensuous undertones of the old Damask and Bourbon roses.
Passers-by may think she looks a bit peculiar, ruining my color scheme with her fresh-hued cluster of pink amongst a tumble of drying stalks and seed heads in the beige and brown hues of late autumn, but I don’t mind—to be welcomed by her scent on a cold November morning is simply to be welcomed by a gift—and ‘Aloha’ is a rose that just keeps giving and giving and giving.
I first took note of Aloha, arching along a split-rail fence and growing in the path of drying winter winds and sand. A rose that can withstand winter along the Cape Ann seashore is a rose worth noticing. I asked the owner of the garden if she minded if I took a cutting and she very graciuosly allowed me to take several (see Chapter 14, page 117, in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities on how to propagate a rose from a cutting). ‘Aloha’ is one of the easier roses to propagate and I soon had several viable plants. I kept one and gave the rest to friends. Roses grown on their own roots are far superior to those grown on a commercial rootstock. The grafted joint is susceptible to disease and damage. Not only that, in the case of a very severe winter, the growth above the graft is often completely destroyed. The growth that returns in the spring is that of the rooting stock, not of the originally desired rose.
‘Aloha’ was hybridized by Eugene Boerner in 1949 and is in the class Large Flowered Climber. Her parents are the Climbing Hybrid Tea ‘Mercedes Gallart’ and ‘New Dawn.’ Although classified as a climber, the versatile ‘Aloha’ is easily grown as a shrub. The foliage is vigorous and leathery, and rarely visited by pests or disease. ‘Aloha’ is the parent or in the ancestry of many gorgeous roses and has contributed greatly to the development of the David Austin roses.
Roses seen in paintings by the old Dutch masters are the Damask, Bourbon, Gallica, Alba, and Portland roses. Hybrid Perpetuals were derived to a great extent from the Bourbons. Hybrid teas are a cross between the winter-hardy Hybrid Perpetual and the tender, yet repeat blooming, Tea rose; hence the winter-hardy and repeat blooming class called Hybrid Tea. These were cross-pollinated with large flowered climbers, culminating in roses that inherited what are considered by rosarians to be the most desirable qualities—that of repeat flowering, strong fragrance, strong stems, hardiness, and disease resistance.
‘Aloha’ grows vigorously in full sun or a very light bit of shade. A compact climber, she is ideal for planting alongside porch pillars and fences. It is easier to train the canes to grow up a porch pillar or to arch along a fence when they are young as the canes become stiff with age. After the first flush of flowering, deadhead and remove any weak or twiggy growth. Pruning is not mandatory for flowering because ‘Aloha’ blooms on both old wood and on the current season’s growth, however, I like to prune again lightly at the end of the growing season, to shape and to remove twiggy growth. In early spring fertilize and lightly prune yet again, removing any dead winter damage (usually minimal). ‘Aloha’ is not prickle free; be mindful to plant where she won’t create a nuisance (I should heed my own advice, although if planted in a heavily trafficked site she is very easy to keep in check).
Because of her ease in culture, remontant habit, arresting fragrance, and seemingly endless variations in color from within each flower, I would have to say ‘Aloha’ is in my top ten category of favorite roses, if not top five. If you have a rose that you cherish—a rose you grow, or perhaps one you recall from childhood—please write and tell me what it is that you find lovely in your rose.