Plant Collector – Rosa Roseraie de l’Hay

Rosa Roseraie de 'Hay

Rosa Roseraie de 'Hay

I think this is what is called an oldie but a goodie. It has been around since 1901 when it was bred in France and is still widely offered for sale. What is more, it has an Award of Merit from the prestigious UK Royal Horticulture Society. It is relatively large growing and tolerant of mistreatment, which is just as well because I planted it in the wrong place to start with and had to move it. In the two years it took me to find it a suitable forever home (as the Living Channel terms a permanent location), it just sat in our heap of old potting mix and it didn’t turn a hair.

The rugosas are a rose group from the coastal areas of China, Japan and Korea. They are renowned for being tough, hardy, tolerant of wide range of conditions (including salt laden winds) and high health. They don’t generally suffer from pests and diseases and stay looking good, even if you never spray. We even get the bonus of late autumn colour when the heavily ribbed and crinkled leaves turn golden yellow. The flowers are deliciously fragrant.

On the down side, they must be one of the prickliest of all the rose groups and they are not a good cut flower. It is hard to find the perfect plant. Rugosas are sometimes used for hedging and they will certainly provide a fierce burglar deterrent but you have to accept their winter dormancy when there are no leaves. Roseraie de l’Hay is sometimes optimistically described as purple or even red. Colour is subjective but I would call it indubitably deep cerise or crimson. If that is not a colour that appeals, the white equivalent which shares the same attributes, is the equally lovely and reliable Blanc Double de Coubert whose flowers are a bit like scented, crumpled tissue paper.

Roseraie can be translated as rose garden. The rose is named for the famed rose garden de l’Hay near Paris.

First published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission.