A Rose by What Name?

| June 4, 2012 | 7 Replies

For 10 years, I had the pleasure of living beside Mr. Werner Gerber, who was the second person to buy property and build a house on our block in Pacific Palisades, California. He bought the property next to ours for $150 in 1939, but couldn’t afford to build the house and move in till 1941. I saw Mr. Gerber every day out sweeping the sidewalk and for a couple of colorful summer months, tending to his renowned dahlias. I was very fond of Mr. Gerber, and photographed him a few times. I fed him oatmeal, gave him green vegetable juice, “Mr. Gerber, I’ve got your rocket fuel!” I’d call, and he swept my driveway. This was in August of 2003 when his dahlias were in full display. He would set them up out front for all to enjoy and had dozens of varieties.

A Rose by What Name? - Werner Gerber

Werner Gerber, Pacific Palisades, ©Kaye Kittrell 2003

In the jungle which was his yard, though, he had a couple of heirloom roses, which he never tended to. They were spindly and had grown into the ground from disintegrated clay pots, but they had the most intoxicating scent I’ve ever experienced. He told me the name, but I don’t remember. I just recall that he said today’s roses don’t have a scent like that. After he died in 2007, I was determined to keep them going in memory of him.

A Rose by What Name? - heirloom roses

Mr. Gerber’s heirloom rose transplanted to my garden after his property was razed

For nearly five years I have tried and failed to get them going. I transplanted them three times from ground to pots to ground. They never produced more than a single rose. Everything attacked them. When I really began my gardening life last fall, I committed myself to doing it right this time. I went to a rose workshop, had my friend Dotty prune them (after I pruned them), used all the recommended organic amendments, and this is the first time I’ve had multiple blooms on both plants, which have doubled in size. My focus is growing vegetables, but I am bound to these roses. Pink with a tinge of lilac, and a thousand petals. Anyone know the name?

A Rose by What Name? - single heirloom rose

This heirloom rose has an incalculable number of petals, here at peak opening

Here’s another bloom a bit farther along. Soon after this stage, the petals start falling off.

A Rose by What Name? - rose

Petals starting to fade just at the yellow center is visible

You can see the pollen has been worked over.

A Rose by What Name? - rose center

Center of rose, degraded

This triplet got attacked and I don’t expect them to open now. I’ve been spraying with Captain Jack’s spinosad insecticide, for organic gardening. Before I did that, the buds all got eaten by borers or earwigs. At least, earwigs would fall out if you turned them upside down and tapped them. Maybe they were after the borers. By the way, if they don’t open, they give off no scent.

A Rose by What Name? - rose blooms infested

Rose bloom halted by bug infestation

The buds are dark rose color. Here are five on one tall stem on the same plant. Fingers crossed they open.

A Rose by What Name? - buds

Rose buds

For scale, here’s one bud in my hand. There are so many petals and they are all impossibly bunched together.

A Rose by What Name? - rosebud

Kaye holds rosebud


A Rose by What Name? Call upon your rose experts to help me identify this rose. I would love to know what it is. Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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Category: Community, Flowers

Comments (7)

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  1. Lisa Welden Lennkh says:

    The first few very pink photos look just like my Gertrude Jekyll roses, a classic English garden rose with a very strong classic rose fragrance. Google it, and see if it matches what you’ve got.

  2. edythe preet says:

    Hi Kaye – the rose looks like a Reine Violette or Reine Victoria – I have both and the blooms tend to the purplish shade of rose – very fragrant, very old, very hard to come by – the roses aren’t big, say 3-inch scant w/ tons of small petals – if so, they are ‘bush’ roses and sprawl – make long ‘canes’ and can grow to cover an arbor – yes? – Edythe

  3. Hey, Edythe and Lisa, thanks for the tips! This sent me off on a search of an exhaustive roses sight, and it does look very similar to all three suggestions, but since there were so many varieties at this one sight, I want to keep looking to make sure. Edythe, not sure I can put in an arbor. I didn’t think that far ahead when I planted them where they are now, maybe one of them. I just pulled off several blooms and leaves with rust. What’s the best organic protection against rust? My roses are inches from beets, radishes and watermelon patch.

  4. Dan Wilson says:

    That was you best entry yet Kaye. I really enjoyed it . I wish I knew the name of the rose.

    • edythe preet says:

      Kaye – I didn’t know what I was doing when I put in my garden – at all! So I planted the two bush roses in exactly the wrong spot – alongside and under the guava and budelia bushes both of which have grown into 12 ft trees! completely shading the roses – arrrrgh…despite that they have grown and bloomed tho sparsely in the flower dept …neither did I put them next to an arbor but intend to move them some Nov/Dec to a sunnier spot….both types of rose throw out l-o-n-g canes (which is what makes them suitable for arbor arching) and both only bloom in May/June (a clue for you) – this requires special pruning when they’re ab-so-lute-ly dormant (Nov/Jan max) – if left to later the new year’s buds will have already set and you’ll have no blooms – once they start growing canes again it’s way too late …. you should come visit and see my garden – it’s a hodgepodge of ‘don’t know what I’m doing but looks great anyhow’ – p.s. LOVE reading/watching Late Bloomer! keep up the great work! – Edythe

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