My ancient old Le Vesuve is blooming again!

jacqueline9CAApril 24, 2011

Another update for those of you who have been following the saga of my 90+ yr old Le Vesuve. From being a glorious amazing flower factory that was 8 ft high and 15 ft wide it suddenly declined, and was dying from the tips of its branches. I figured that since it was 90-100 yrs old it had probably come to the end of its lifespan.

However, always optimistic, last Fall my DH and I got in there and tried to prune away the dead branches (sort of like trying to prune spaghetti - the branches all went around in circles and were all laced together). Three days and many scratches later, we had discovered that 1 of the 2 main branches off the trunk, as well as a completely separate trunk nearby that seemed to be an old tip rooting, were completely dead, which took out 2/3rds of the bush. We cut out the dead parts of the remaining 1/3, but didn't have the heart to actually hard prune or shape it - we just left any branch that had signs of life.

So, of course this Spring little sprouts appeared at the ends of most of the old branches! I am happy to say that some sprouts also appeared maybe 10 inches up from the base of the old trunk. One ancient, crusty, 2 inch in diameter long long branch that was running horizontally actually started sprouting every 10 inches all along its 7 ft length (of course the deer immediately munched all of the sprouts, but I sprayed them with deer go away stuff, and they seem to be recovering). So, now it looks so funny - all of the old branches have little pom poms a the end of them - of beautiful blooms! They are really huge and gorgeous - I think I have inadvertently "pruned for fewer and larger flowers" as they tell you to do with HTs!

I figure I will leave it alone to grow and get some leaves going, and then prune it again next Fall - cutting back the long scraggly branches, and trying to encourage the growth that is closer to the ground. I does appear that it is no longer dying - roses really are amazing!


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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

Well that's great Jackie. It's such a treasure and a piece of history. I hope it can go on.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:30AM
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aquawise(zone 4 Utah)

I have an Old "120" year old! Damask rose That was all but dead when we bought this old house "Built in 1888". I did as you have done yours and so far it has recovered. I removed some suckers and planted them with my Old Harrison roses and they have done wonderful. You are right Old roses are amazing.
It is a pink rose with the most heavenly Smell. Wonderful to just stand an Inhale the fragrance!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Gallery

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:40AM
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Aquawise - isn't it fun to have an old house and realize that your Damask rose was there when it was NOT an old house? That's great that you were able to save it - do you know who planted it all those years ago? My LV was planted by my DH's Great Grand Father - he bought the house new in 1905 (and we have pictures of it new with NO garden), and was quite a gardener.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 11:00AM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

Thanks for the update! It's thrilling to know that your stupendous rose is making a comeback. I love Le Vesuve and your original picture of the giant bush was one of the reasons I ordered one. I now have four!

We'd love to see pictures in a few more months. I'm really curious as to what its size is now.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 1:13PM
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Ingrid - I may post a picture next Spring, if the LV is looking more reasonable. Right now it would be too embarrassed - it looks like a poodle - the old style of grooming them so that they have no hair except in big puffs on the top of their heads and on their feet and at the end of their tails.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 2:14PM
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I'm delighted to hear this. My fingers were crossed for your success. I love stories about old roses that really are old!


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 6:35PM
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jerome(z9 CA)

I am so happy that rose is rejuvenating. I even said a little prayer for it...I think that is the magnificent plant Cass Bernstein posted a photo of, no? I hope it gives the world another 100 years.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:31PM
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This is so exciting ----It does my heart good to hear about this old survivor.

Looking forward to pictures of the progress.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:18PM
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