Enabling 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles'

michaelg(7a NC Mts)July 14, 2011

I haven't seen much discussion of this rose. I like mine a lot. What do others think?

Currently we have a number of good red climbers available, but Tess is the only one I've grown lately. Anybody want to add a side-by-side comparison?

The flowers of Tess are outstanding. They are bright cherry red or medium crimson; the color is always slightly to the blue side of true or flag red, and it doesn't change much with age. Flowers are large, well formed, and moderately fragrant to me. They are long lasting on the plant or cut--unusually so for an Austin rose. The flower quality holds up in hot weather and sun.

The plant is inclined to be more climber than shrub, but could be either. I am pruning mine to stand up but allowing a few canes to ramble on a wall behind. It repeats regularly, not in great numbers, but enough to look like a flush. Laterals on the shrubby part are longer than I would prefer, but not wild and whippy like those on the neighboring 'Radio Times.'

This year I didn't spray for the first 9 weeks of the growing season, and a number of roses defoliated, including I think all my other Austin roses except 'Prospero.' Tess only had only a very few blackspotted leaves and no mildew.

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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

I'd like to see the colour of Tess; sounds like a winner to me. I don't like "flag red" at all, so is Tess "blue" enough to be defined sort of as crimson(like, say, Austin's The Dark Lady)? thanks, bart

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 4:40AM
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I bought one this spring and have been pleased with the rebloom and color. It is described as being brighter than L.D. Braithwaite, so I was not sure I would like the color, but so far it is a darker, bluer red. So far it looks pretty healthy.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 7:03AM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

I've grown Tess for about 3 years now and really love her. She's a generous bloomer and re-bloomer, gets very tall (I have her on a tutour) and has the most lovely formed bloom and such a pure bright color. Here's a picture:

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 7:33AM
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I planted a Tess this spring and it has grown to just over 3' tall. I was planning on having it as a shrub but its not very bushy and has a lot of long canes. Now I've been thinking of making her climb a trellis. She's planted close to a wall so I wouldn't need to move her. The only issue I'm having is that the canes are pretty thick and don't seem to want to bend much. I know that tying canes on a lateral produces more blooms but I can't get the canes bent that way without breaking them. Any suggestions would be appreciated. If anyone has any idea how to keep it a shrub and make it bushier I will try that root as well. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 8:30AM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

I've had one for four years and added two more this spring on multiflora from Pickering.
I haven't sprayed in four years. It keeps chugging along and blooms after rainfalls (our irrigation system needs reworking).
It is an excellent shade of red for our place which has hay fields and then eastern Hardwood Forest in the background.
It is almost a climber, but the soil isn't that supportive of vigorous growth.

If you like Tess, you might want to try Crocus Rose which is even better in its bloom production and resistance to fungal problems. Here in east Tennessee, it's been a really successful rose (white to creamy white depending on sun exposure.) A friend who's grown it for two years after I told her to remains awestruck at how much better it grows than her Hybrid Teas.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 10:15AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

LD Braithwaite is a true modern medium red like Olympiad. But Tess is always on the cerise or blue side of that. The color in the garden is quite bright, as in Karen's picture. However, roses cut in tight bud will usually open in the house a darker, smoky purple red that is really gorgeous. Cut after sepals separate but preferably before petals do. Rule of thumb: try cutting the old-style blooms sooner than you think you should.

My foliage is darker than Karen's, and I rarely get blooms in clusters so far.

cecila--yeah, I broke a cane last week bending it too early. Best time is probably just after blooming.

Thanks, all, for the comments.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 12:59PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Only five people growing Tess?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 1:19PM
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kevin_mcl(S Ireland)

I have Tess in a 30 liter container for the past couple of years and it seems to be a very robust grower, very free blooming and the rich red blooms seem to last for quite a long time.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 4:22AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Kevin, does it get rust or mildew in the Irish climate?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 10:35AM
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kevin_mcl(S Ireland)

Yes Michael - the 'soft' Irish climate can be a bit a problem with fungus attacks. In the South West in particular where it seems to rain every five seconds.
However, in my garden, rust seems to be only an occasional problem with PM a bit more common but blackspot is a constant battle. I find I have to give - at a minimum - a monthly spray with myclobutanil or some other fungicide from May or many of my roses will be reduced to near bare canes by mid July.

I am also a bit surprised that Tess doesn't seem to warrant the attention that other Austins get given its overall vigour and profusion of vibrant crimson blooms.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 1:51PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Beautiful photo, Kevin!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 6:21PM
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I live on Hawaii Island (The Big Island of Hawaii) and I just got Tess with a few other English Roses and they are doing quite well at the moment. But I do have a question. Here in Hawaii where it can be quite humid and yet the summers are not hot due to the trade winds, we tend to lose leaves on our roses. Will Epsom Salt's help in this case and will it help Tess and the other roses as well? Also, because of the volcano activity, we have this haze that we call "vog" which emits sulfur every few days during the month, will this cause problems also to my roses?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 3:06PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Sulphur is a known fungicide, so "vog" might actually be good.

Epsom salts won't be of any benefit unless your soil is seriously deficient in magnesium.

Are is the foliage you are losing spotted with disease, or does the foliage just fall off?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 3:44PM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

First of all Clinton I don't think you should use Epsom Salts. What I heard was that the soil in most of Hawaii is very high in Magnesium, too high in some places for roses to do well, so you wouldn't want to put more on. Maybe you could have your soil tested.
I'm growing Tess on a pillar with the Clematis Marie Bloisett. Beautiful!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Thank you, hoovb and mendocino_rose for your input. I will hold up on the epsom salts. The foliage on my roses usually turn yellow and fall off. I am wondering now if there is an iron deficiency problem with my soil. I need to have my soil tested. Roses do very nicely here with monthly feeding and spraying but of course we do have the usual problems that comes along with gardening. Tess is blooming profusely and the others are doing quite well also. I just love the beautiful crimson red color of Tess. It is a gorgeous rose.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 8:32PM
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