Fair Bianca...Jeri?

bellegallica_zone9(9)December 4, 2011

I came across this comment by Jeri about Fair Bianca:

If I had spare space and water, I'd grow 'Fair Bianca' again.

It was such a weakling here -- but I think if I grew it with NO pruning, and only "bend and snap" deadheading, maybe it would make a plant.

It'd be worth the try, for the loveliness of the bloom, and the intensity of the fragrance.

Jeri

Having admired this one for a while, I'm thinking of biting the bullet and getting it grafted/bareroot from David Austin Texas. How do you think it would perform in a big pot, disbudding to let it put on some growth?

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jerijen(Zone 10)

I would pray to have it not-virused -- and I wouldn't count on that, from that source.

That said, yes. That's EXACTLY what I would do with it, Belle.

I wouldn't start it in a giant pot tho.
Depending upon the size of the plant, maybe 5-G, until it got rolling, and then move it up to something larger.
Definitely disbud it to start. Though I think I'd probably let it make one bloom, to be sure I have the right rose. It's unmistakable, in its milky-whiteness, and the intensity of the fragrance.

DANG! Now, you've got me thinking of it again . . .

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 11:02PM
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roseseek

Well, sounds what you should do is procure VI material of it to be double budded on VI Fortuniana. Kim

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 11:55PM
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bellegallica_zone9(9)

You're right. I forgot all about the virus issue. Well, an own root, if it were disbudded, coddled and pampered in a series of pots, should do just as well. No harm in trying. And yes, of course I would let a bud or two or three bloom to make sure I've got the right rose. LOL.

Kim, what is double budded?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 10:45AM
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cemeteryrose(USDA 9/Sunset 14)

Preparatory to taking out my Fair Bianca this year, I cut it to the ground. It responded by sending out clean new canes and blooming very nicely. The new canes were thin, but healthy, unlike the old ones that had purple blotching all over them. I guess it's staying. A very proper Master Gardener friend of mine calls the "cut to the ground" approach as the "Live or Die, Sucker!" technique. Fair Bianca chose life.

I have it in a rather shady spot with competing mint and other plants around it, and it's never been strong. I don't feed a lot, and this year did nothing other than a sprinkle of alfalfa. Mine is own root, never has shown any sign of virus but that's not proof that it's clean.

Mine is ten years old, at least, and had been allowed to grow four feet tall with the "bend and snap" approach.

I love those white cupped flowers, but perhaps she should be named "Frail Bianca." I'd certainly try growing her in a pot and letting her build above and below ground. However, I think this is a plant that, once established, does not mind an occasional hard prune

Anita

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 11:12AM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

And there you are!

No, it's not PROOF that it's virus-free, but -- maybe.
If not budded in the U.S., that's some help.

I should note, tho, that I had two plants of 'The Dark Lady,' which were purchased from Heirloom -- this is some years back.

They never grew well, but the blooms were so very lovely ... In their third year, tho, they broke out all over, both plants, with the most extensive evidence of Virus I'd ever seen. And mind -- these plants were in squats, in the ground -- and their roots had never approached making it out into the "real world."

Heirloom wouldn't believe the plants were virused, because their mother plant had come directly from Austin -- but testing demonstrated that I was correct. Which is a long-way-around saying that a European or English origin is NOT a guarantee of virus-free status.

All that said, HMF lists Vintage and Rogue Valley as sources (which would be own-root) and neither presently lists it. :-( You might want to contact both, and ask. I don't know where else you could get it, other than Austin in TX.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:21PM
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cemeteryrose(USDA 9/Sunset 14)

My own root Fair Bianca was purchased from Michael's Roses, which has long been closed. He proudly sold only own-root but almost all of the roses that I bought from him were virus'd. If the cuttings or budwood are from a virus'd plant, the new plant will be, too - of course!
Anita

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 2:40PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

It really is a shame that this very beautiful, fragrant, and non-balling white flower should come with such a pathetic weakling of a plant.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 3:09PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

'Bolero' ('Meidelweis' ) is a good substitute.

My 'Fair Bianca' is still alive on the back 40, where disappointments go to live out their lives, but is in a sad state. It was once in the best place in the garden, lavished with TLC, and it didn't look any better!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 4:02PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

OK, here 'ya go -- Heirloom Roses in St. Paul, OR, still carries Fair Bianca.

Mind -- I have not ordered from them in more than a decade because we got more mis-labelled plants from them than correctly-labelled ones ... and their plants were pitifully small, at that.

However, they DO have it, and apparently will be shipping again in March.

Jeri

Here is a link that might be useful: Heirloom Roses

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 4:38PM
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luxrosa

I'd buy a Fair Bianca from a Canadian source, pickeringnurseries.com or hortico.com, budded onto R.multiflora, because that rootstock does well for us here.
My neighbors 'Fair Bianca' is a robust 3 and 1/2 foot tall plant. This is one rose I'd only buy on rootstock.

Luxrosa

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 5:00PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Multiflora rootstock is probably fine in many areas.

It is, however, a huge pain in the rear, anywhere where conditions are alkaline (as they are in much of the SW).

I have lived that dream, and will never do it again.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 5:11PM
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bellegallica_zone9(9)

Thanks, Jeri. I saw that it's also listed at Roses Unlimited, so that's another possibility. It looks like I'm going to wait until spring to order this one, which is just as well. That will give me time to decide if I REALLY want this one. Everywhere you look, the story seems the same: great flowers and scent, terrible plant.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 8:39PM
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roseseek

Budded bushes and climbers usually are created using only one bud. Most standards use two to round out the head and provide for better symmetry. Budding two in one stock for a plant of a weak grower just gives you a nicer, fuller plant faster. I used four to create my old Baby Faurax standard out back on a whip of Cardinal Hume. Kim

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 11:30PM
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Molineux(6b)

I love this rose. She produces the best white cut roses in my garden. They don't ball and last forever in a vase. The myrrh fragrance is intense and reminds me of Noxzema face cream (my nickname for her is "Miss Noxzema Jackson"). I know that sounds weird but the unusual fragrance perfectly fits the stark whiteness of the bloom with its chartreuse button eye. Speaking of flower form, it is consistently perfect. I'm not kidding. FAIR BIANCA is one of those rare roses where the blooms always match those in photographs. In fact, I love this rose so much that I have a little antique silver vase that I use just for her blossoms.

All that praise said Miss Noxzema does have her "issues". The rose suffers from bloom yourself to death syndrome. If you've ever grown the mauve Floribunda ANGEL FACE then you'll know what I mean. She puts all her vigor into blooming. If the plant becomes stressed from blackspot then she begins a long, slow painful death. She needs consistent spraying to keep her complexion clear and regular doses of organic fertilizers to support her constant blooming habit. And keep your pruning sheers off her canes. Deadheading the spent blooms is all that is necessary. Even with all this effort the plant will never get over 3 feet tall. Both my plants (2) are grafted directly from David Austin and I've never seen any signs of virus. Frankly, I wouldn't try her own root. She is just too dang delicate. And yes I have plans to acquire more. The one good thing about the runty shrub is the ease with which it can be tucked into tight spaces in the front of the flower border.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 11:19AM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

I think the "bloom yourself to death" thing is a pretty good description. And I also agree that budded, in this case, would be superior to own-root -- assuming you could get a clean plant.

I think, if it were me, I'd probably try own-root, and plant to keep it in a container, and sort of baby it. It's something I want to do one of these days. Just -- it's not a priority.

(R. chinensis spontanea from Vintage is a priority. I think I need it.)

I agree that as a cut flower, it's magnificent.

She does not blackspot here, which is a good thing. Just not vigorous.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 12:57PM
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bellegallica_zone9(9)

Oh gosh, more enabling!

"Little Latin boy in drag, why are you crying?"

(Because he can't remember what Noxzema smells like?)

Own-root? Grafted? Both? I don't know. I think I'll wait until spring, and see what's available.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 11:11AM
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gardennatlanta(z7atlantaGA)

Just my two cents: I got Fair Bianca based on the pictures and the amazing description given by a certain well known enabler on this forum. FB got a prime spot in my garden, got loads of TLC but never did all that much. In my case, "bloom itself to death" would have been a bit of an understatement. Yes, the blooms were beautiful but the effect of the entire plant still disappointed. I put something else in the place she vacated and am not the least sorry that she is no longer in my garden. I'm a very optimistic person but not optimistic enough to try FB again.

See, I warned you.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 8:03PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

FWIW, I ran across a couple of mentions of the famous 'La France,' written long ago by Georgia Torrey Drennan.

It was clearly one of her favorite roses, but she mentions again and again that it blooms itself to death. She goes so far as to say that those who grow it must have young plants waiting in the wings to replace the plant in the garden when, inevitably, it begins to falter.

IF I were to grow 'Fair Bianca' again, I think I would be mindful of that, and ever-mindful of the fact that this cultivar is a weakling.

First, I would grow it in a container of moderate size, rather than setting it out to fend for itself in the garden. I would allow it to set and open ONE bud (to be sure I had the right plant). After that, I would ruthlessly disbud it, and continue to do so until the plant had some growth under it.

That's what I would do, FWIW.
Is it worth the trouble? That's a very individual decision. For some, it would be. For others, it ain't wuth the trouble involved.

Jeri in Coastal Southern California

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 9:01PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Jeri, let's keep open the possibility (likelihood in my estimation) that "blooms itself to death" is a nonsensical idea.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 10:55AM
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roseseek

michael, have you ever grown Fantan http://www.helpmefind.com/rose/l.php?l=2.23674.1 or Grey Pearl http://www.helpmefind.com/gardening/l.php?l=2.3122 ? These two, in particular, WILL bloom themselves to death. They keep attempting to push flower buds all over the plants until the whole collapses and dies. Even budded, they require significant disbudding just to maintain them alive, much less as decent garden plants. That is the single worst side effect of ever budding roses. There have been many in the market which have just been such awful plants (no matter how glorious the flowers) and even worse, used extensively in breeding to create even worse plants, that would have never been released had own root been the norm. You can make marginal plants perform better when budded, but a bad grower is still going to be a bad grower.

Even Austin realized this rose needed help. He's only sold it budded and has suggested planting it in multiples of three to allow it to make a "presence". It wasn't just an intelligent marketing strategy, FB needs it. One plant usually is pretty scrawny. Dump three in close proximity and it almost looks like a decent plant. She really does have a wonderful flower, but that plant is an atrocity and has been in every garden I've observed it. Even disbudded to encourage it to grow better, it just doesn't have the "oomph" to BE a GOOD plant. Yes, there will be gardens and gardeners which suit it, but they will be the exceptions rather than the rules. As long as you're armed with the knowledge and you make that commitment with eyes wide open, give her a try. But, be prepared for her to thumb her nose at you and disappoint. Even her creator warned you. He can't come right out and tell you how awful she can be, but he did warn you to plant multiples so it LOOKS like a decent plant and you know the climate in which he selected it. And, you know he made these determinations with budded plants. Kim

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 12:59PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

No Kim, I haven't grown either of those two, and I'll take your word for it. But the Biancas I've grown or observed here (several of them) weren't heavy bloomers.

In Florida 60 years ago, people said "Roses just bloom themselves to death in this year-round climate." However, it was actually the root-knot nematode killing the plants before widespread use of Fortuniana rootstock.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 1:19PM
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roseseek

The nematode issue might have appeared as if they bloomed themselves to death. Consider old fruit trees, particularly apricots in these parts. Once the tree begins to decline and approach its end, these frequently flower and attempt to set copious fruit, as if they have the last ditch effort to reproduce before dying. I can imagine that seeming the case with the roses. Not that the plants actually died because of heavily flowering (though that tremendous final expenditure of energy surely could push it over the edge faster) when other terminal factors were at work. Kim

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 1:34PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

But I think, even if nematodes are at issue (and that is not the case here, as you know Kim, some roses just are (as you noted) going to bloom at the expense of growth.

Michael, Fair Bianca DID bloom well here. Not massively, but for the amount of plant, it did produce. I even got respectable sprays off it, to exhibit. But that was early on.

As the plant weakened, it DID bloom less.
Mind, I didn't help it any. Obedient to my mentors, I PRUNED the poor thing, to FORCE it to grow. That was the wrong strategy entirely. Rather than growing, it shrank, and eventually there wasn't much to remove.

I don't know I could do better with it today, but I couldn't do WORSE.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 4:44PM
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bellegallica_zone9(9)

Another strategy! Keep rooted cuttings in reserve.

I've seen the multiples of three advice for other roses as well: Caldwell Pink, for example. In that case, I think it's meant to disguise irregular growth habit.

This thread is reminding me of campanula's "the nastiest rose I have ever seen" post. Fair Bianca has been around since the early 80's. That's a pretty long while for such a dud of a plant. Obviously the beauty and fragrance of the flower keeps it around. The same impulses that selected Paul Neyron selected Fair Bianca, too.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 11:14PM
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roseseek

And Grey Pearl, and Fantan, and Lavender Pinocchio, and Dove, and Agnes Winchell, and, and.....Kim

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 12:24AM
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Molineux(6b)

It depends what you want. I like her because of the cut flowers. Grown grafted, sprayed and coddled she is a reliable producer of wonderfully fragrant pure white flowers that last a long time in a vase. Her growth habit is very upright (like a miniature Hybrid Tea) and the plant is never going to get over 3 feet. Mine hover at about 2 feet and I treat her royally.

For those who want a short, white, GARDEN ROSE try the Polyantha LULLABY. The flower form is classic OGR with a green button eye. The growth habit is nice and shrubby, the foliage is a heck of a lot more disease resistant, and the repeat bloom is fast and furious. Of course, the flowers are a good deal smaller (like a miniature rose) and have no fragrance.

Sorry folks, but you can't have your cake and eat it too. So make your choice. I choose for beauty of flower and fragrance.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 10:40AM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

I agree! There are just a few roses I'm willing to pamper in that manner.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 12:01PM
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luxrosa

In an interview Mr. Austin said "It's hard to breed a good white rose"
I wish he would have not introduced F.B. but continued to try and breed a vigerous and beautiful white blooming rosebush.

Lux.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 6:45PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

It is true that his whites have never been his best roses. That's a pity.

Fair Bianca, I suppose, can be considered to be a taunting hint of what a GOOD Austin white might have been.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 7:06PM
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bellegallica_zone9(9)

Just idle curiosity, but I wonder what the parentage of FB is?

HMF says "unknown." Anyone heard any rumors?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 9:52PM
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roseseek

If anyone has Clair Martin's 100 English Roses for American Gardens (mine is packed in the garage somewhere), it may give that information. Kim

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 2:56AM
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roseseek

FWIW, two suggestions came up when I Googled for the parentage. Obviously, they repeat what the others have written. Kim

http://www.oocities.org/joroses_41/fairbianca.html

Fair Bianca

Breeder: David Austin

Parentage: Graham Thomas x Mary Rose?

Introduced: 1983

http://www.rogersroses.com/gallery/DisplayBlock~bid~1393~gid~41~source~gallerydefault.asp

Parentage: a descendent of 'Belle Isis'.

From HMF Reference page

The Quest for the RoseEDITBook (1993) Page(s) 239.
Fair Bianca English Rose. Austin (Britain) 1983, Description... Parentage includes 'Belle Isis'.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 3:21AM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Graham Thomas x Mary Rose seems ... odd?
But descended from Belle Isis (having grown Belle Isis) I can believe.

Though, while it's said that the "myrrh" fragrance in the Austins comes from Belle Isis, both Keith Zary and John Walden told me that it shows up in all sorts of roses wholly un-related to either Belle Isis or any of the Austin roses. It's been around all along, but no one selected for it. That doesn't surprise me, because tho I myself like it, I know that many don't.

In confirmation of that, I smelled roses in J&P's Somis test gardens that simply reeked of it, but were unrelated ... (They had another rose there that smelled just like freshly-cut avocados -- but I digress.)

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 1:03PM
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roseseek

Many years ago, while visiting Vintage and The Korbel gardens with Gregg Lowery and Phillip Robinson, we talked of Swim's 1950s Moonsprite. I commented about its myrrh fragrance that Austin had written ONLY came from Ayshire Roses, and how Moonsprite looked like what an Austin rose SHOULD perform like. They stated they found it interesting that the Austin Nursery had quite a few Moonsprite plants in their nursery, yet didn't sell it. We all theorized how interesting it would be if the "unknown" seedlings in some of their parentages turned out to be a half century old Swim/Armstrong American floribunda.

It's probably not all that far fetched. He's made use of Aloha (1949 J&P), Yellow Cushion (1966 Armstrong), White Ma Perkins (1962 Hennessey), Iceberg (1958 Kordes), Dusky Maiden (1947 LeGrice), Parade (1953 J&P), Monique (1949 Paolino), Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Dainty Maid (1940 LeGrice), Ivory Fashion (1958 J&P), Ma Perkins (1952 J&P), Allister Stella Gray, Ballerina, Honeymoon (1960 Kordes) and many others, before adding in the handful of OGRs he pressed into use. There are dozens and dozens of "unknown", "unnamed" and "undisclosed", any of which COULD be something like Moonsprite.

If Belle Isis is to be taken as a parent of Fair Bianca, it must have come through Constance Spry and Chaucer as that is the line he lists for that OGR. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Moonsprite on HMF

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 2:57PM
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bellegallica_zone9(9)

When I saw the Belle Isis suggestion, I thought, "duh," the myrrh scent, of course. Which I still haven't smelled due to my Chaucer most likely being Clair Rose. But nearly every description I've read describes it as being something like black licorice. I like eating black licorice, so I would imagine I'd like this scent. (My brother would give me his black jelly beans at Easter since I was the only one who'd eat them.) I know not everyone likes the flavor so it would make sense those people wouldn't like the scent either.

So Fair Bianca, being an Austin, either Belle Isis directly or through Constance Spry is a possibility. All the interesting things we learn here. I've heard that the fully double old-fashioned form shows up just as regularly as the high centered hybrid tea form. Now we know myrrh scent shows up regularly, too.

Maybe Fair Bianca could be a child of Moonsprite and Belle Isis. In some photos, it looks like Moonsprite fades to pure white. Look at the flowers to the right in the photo below.

Here is a link that might be useful: white blooms on Moonsprite

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 3:46PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Kim, I've never actually seen Moonsprite, but I can see that I would like it. Doubly-so, if it has that fragrance. I wonder how it is reg. mildew and/or rust.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 3:57PM
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bellegallica_zone9(9)

Oh I take that back. I had Belle Isis the very first year I grew roses. To me she smelled like a combination of beer and soap. LOL. Different noses? But she was so miserable, I didn't get more than two or three flowers, and I didn't replace it after it went--quickly. By then I had done more reading and found out why she didn't like it here.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 4:10PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

I did the same thing, Bellegallica.

Belle Isis grew indifferently here near the coast (tho she sure SUCKERED vigorously!) And like other Northern European roses here, began to decline in bloom production after about three years with no dormancy at all.

As for the fragrance -- I can smell the myrrh in Fair Bianca, and in Cymbeline, but I really could not detect it in Belle Isis. Her sole notable accomplishment here was to win one Dowager Queen trophy for us.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 4:29PM
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roseseek

Moonsprite can rust if it's an issue where you are. I didn't have much of that issue in Newhall and loved that rose. Yes, "myrrh" is very much black licorice, a flavor I detest, yet a fragrance I can tolerate if not too heavy. If you want the densest, heaviest licorice/myrrh scent I've encountered, grow Cressida. Terrible plant with lots of rust and black spot; incredibly thorny and in this climate, best as a pillar rose. If you pick an opening bud and manually open it, the stench is intensely bitter, but once it ages a bit, it's licorice extract. I've smelled buds of Cressida as I've just peeled them open, where the oils and alcohols were so intense and lasting, they scented my mustache so strongly, I had to wash my face to get rid of it. Of all the Austins I've smelled looking for that scent, Cressida has the most concentrated. Kim

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 5:43PM
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roseseek

I just noticed Vintage has stock of their apricot sport of Moonsprite, Apricot Moon. It's worth getting. I grew it years ago. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Apricot Moon at HMF

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 7:15PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

No. What I want from Vintage right now is R. chinensis spontanea.
Before it's too late.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 8:11PM
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Molineux(6b)

I think David Austin's best white has to be ROSE-MARIE, the white sport of HERITAGE. It is a good bloomer, vigorous, and forms a graceful shrub. The vase life of the bloom is shorter and the color is more of a creamy white, but still a very beautiful bloom. BTW, if you are going to get any vase life out of the rose you must cut the bloom while it is still in bud. Don't worry if the bud hasn't cracked yet. As long as one or two sepals are down you should be fine.

I didn't like GLAMIS CASTLE because the myrrh fragrance was obnoxious (the blooms also shatter easily). As you folks have guessed "myrrh" can vary quite a bit. With Fair Bianca the fragrance is acceptable because of a subtle vanilla-like base note, which is why the rose marries so well with the annual Heliotrope. Tamora has a delicious myrrh fragrance because of a fruity top note.

CLAIR AUSTIN is the hot new English white right now but I haven't had a chance to grow it yet.

I'm dying to try BOULE DE NEIGE, a white Bourbon hybridized by Francois Lacharme in 1867. I have its pinkish-white sister COQUETTE DES BLANCHES growing in my mother's zone 7b garden and it is an exceptionally beautiful plant. The blooms are small but are blessed with perfect OGR flower form and appear in lovely sprays on a graceful (and healthy) shrub. CdB has a very strong, sweet fragrance that must be smelled to be believed.

Of course no white rose can compare in beauty to the classic Damask MADAME HARDY (1832). I've searched my whole life as a rosarian for a repeat blooming substitute and have yet to find it. That is why I like Fair Bianca so much. The bloom is similar. Alas the fragrance isn't as fine, the chartreuse button eye doesn't have as much visual punch as Mme. Hardy's emerald green pip, and the plant ... well it's a joke to even try comparing the two for vigor and graceful growth habit.

SOMBREUIL is a gorgeous white climber but the blooms are more of a flattened rosette verses Mme. Hardy's silky white quartered perfection. Sigh...

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 12:46PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

I envy you Mme. Hardy. It's a rose I love, and it will grow here, but it does not flower where it has no winter at all. Mme. Plantier does better, tho it's not really pleased to be here at the coast.

But you should LOVE Boule de Niege!
Here, it is a tall, and only slightly spreading plant, with perfect dark green leaves backing small milk-white blooms. If Coquette des Blanches grows for you, Boule should. Coquette wasn't really happy here, but Boule has been with us for close to ten years, and I love her.

Jeri

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 3:45PM
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