ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN
This single white heirloom rose has created a large thicket due to its suckering habit. In early summer it literally drips with bloom.
Most roses, and in particular the hardy roses that many of us grow in this area, take a bit of an August holiday and put forth little bloom for about a month.
‘Prairie Celebration’, a member of the Parkland series, has vibrant red, single blooms reminiscent of an heirloom rose.
(ALBERT PARSONS/BRANDON SUN)
The foliage of ‘Prairie Celebration’ is thick, shiny and leathery, similar to that of a hybrid tea rose. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
They burst forth with prolific bloom in early summer, which usually lasts right up until early August, and then the bloom wanes.
By very late August the plants have put forth new growth, culminating in the production of innumerable buds and a flush of fall bloom, which will last right up until the plants are cut down by heavy frost — the blooms and buds will endure the first light fall frost with no ill effect if the frosts are relatively light.
One particular rose in my rose garden is the first to put forth its September flowers and this rose is a relatively new addition to my garden.
The rose is ‘Prairie Celebration’, a 2003 introduction in the wonderful Parkland series that also includes such favourites as ‘Winnipeg Parks’ (perhaps my favourite hardy rose), and all of those great roses whose names begin with Morden, such as ‘Morden Centennial’, ‘Morden Blush’, as well as ‘Hope for Humanity’.
All of the aforementioned roses have double or semi-double blooms, which I have always preferred.
‘Prairie Celebration’, on the other hand, has single blooms — exquisite large single flowers with yellow centres. The blooms are vibrant red and the foliage is top quality, rivalling that of the tea rose.
Although single roses have not been my first choice, this rose did not disappoint me. It has consistently been the first one to re-bloom in the fall following its hiatus after putting on an astounding display of bloom all summer.
Although single roses are not the first choice for exhibiting, they do make a great addition to the garden and perform well. ‘Prairie Celebration’ seems to have a good vase life for those people who prefer to enjoy their roses indoors instead of in the garden.
I have included other single roses in my garden from time to time. One was an old heirloom variety that came from my in-laws’ garden by way of my wife’s garden club days.
This venerable old beauty is a white — more accurately called ivory — rose. It graced our Birtle garden for a couple of decades. The blossoms have yellow centres, similar to ‘Prairie Celebration’.
I have been unable to find the name of this rose. The closest I’ve come is that Lois Hole listed a rose called ‘Fruhlingsanfang’, a German rose introduced in Canada in 1950, in her book, "Rose Favourites".
Whatever its name, the old heirloom rose I had bloomed only once a year, in early summer. Perhaps because it bloomed only once a year, it put on a spectacular display of single ivory white blossoms that lasted for two weeks or more and literally covered the rather tall plants.
The blooms of this rose, like those of most heirloom roses, are very fragrant. I have encountered some roses in people’s yards that I think are the same rose, but no one remembers the variety name — perhaps because it is an old heirloom variety.
Luckily, ‘Prairie Celebration’ is not a suckering rose, as some of the heirloom single roses are. The white one I mentioned certainly sends out suckers, as does ‘Theresa Bugnet’, an old heirloom rose that we have in our current garden.
While heritage roses do not have the lovely pointed buds and perfectly shaped blooms of the hybrid teas that are coveted by those who exhibit roses or search after the perfect rose, they do have a place in the landscape because of their casual charm and poignant fragrance.
The ancestry of many of the hardy roses that we have in our gardens now, including members of both the Parkland and Explorer series, can be traced back to these heirloom roses. Breeders have tried to make the blooms of many of them resemble the blooms of hybrid tea roses — that benchmark of all roses.
While I still admire tea roses and have included several hardy roses in my garden that have blooms very much like those of the tea rose, there is something refreshing about the old heirloom roses, and in particular the single ones.
‘Prairie Celebration’ reminds me of these "old-fashioned" roses and I think it adds a certain charm to my rose garden — I am glad I included it in my collection of hardy roses.
Albert Parsons is a consultant for garden design and landscaping who lives in Minnedosa.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 12, 2013