Demonic roses (plus Gardenweb's 15 char. requirement)

This isn't an official class, but rose gardeners know what I'm talking about. The last couple of days one of my tasks down in the shade garden has been pruning and training up a species climber, R. longicuspis I think it is. We bought this way back in 2004 and planted it in the spot we had available at the time--a poor spot--on the downhill side of a mature flowering ash, in heavy clay over rock. The rose didn't like it. It didn't want to grow in thin heavy soil poor in organic matter; it didn't want to climb into the flowering ash, a medium sized tree with a dense crown. R. longicuspis comes from the Himalayan area, and most roses from that part of the world aren't best suited even to the better end of our range of conditions. R. longicuspis grew, it died back, it got cane girdler, it refused to climb into the tree in any permanent fashion. It didn't die.

I terraced up the ground around the rose, feeding it year after year with all the organic detritus I could find (autumn leaf drop, storms, pruning), and making occasional efforts to train it into the tree. The rose is tremendously thorny, with long hooked thorns that catch on the gardener, itself, nearby shrubs, growing on long, long trailing canes. The possibilities for conflict and pain are endless. I'm in the middle of working on it, still hoping that, this time, I'll be able to get it into the tree and have it stay there. I'm still pruning the second yew hedge, likewise an intimidating task, as the hedge is on steep rocky ground with a pergola alongside, and setting up the ladder is a pain. Once the hedge is finished, or as a break from it, I'll shift the ladder over to the nearby flowering ash and haul the thorny, flexible canes into the tree's crown. Who knows, perhaps this time it will establish there. I think the rose is getting stronger. It's a large once bloomer flowering late in the season with single white flowers. I'd like to have it growing well at last.

P.S. Other demonic roses: R. helenae, 'La Mortola'.

Comments (8)

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR

    Thank you, Melissa. I love this whole concept and posting.

  • Perma n’ Posies/9A FL

    Wow, Melissa, that sounds like quite the undertaking! I also love tree-climbing roses, so applaud your efforts. I laughed out loud at the new classification; yes, some of them do seem quite possessed of malicious spirits when they start snaring and lashing! :-)

  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8

    You can grow Lady Banks roses, Perma! No thorns!

  • sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

    Laguna and Mermaid both are definitely possessed.

  • Rosefolly

    Many years ago I planted a Mermaid. After reading all the posts about it here, had second thoughts and removed it.

  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8

    Lately I've finally been pruning dead and dying growth off of R. helenae. It grows on top of a wobbly shed and I haven't touched it for years, having been unwilling to drag a sufficiently tall ladder down to the bottom of the garden (and then drag it back up again). It's a great rose, definitely in the demonic class as I said.

    Some of the Wichurianas are hot competitors.

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR

    Pink Surprise is a beautiful demon.

  • Perma n’ Posies/9A FL

    I thought of this post when I moved my little Darlow‘s Enigma the other day; for a 2’ plant, it seemed to transform itself into an eight foot octopus while trying to move it. Its thorns were like Velcro, and as soon I released myself from one cane, another one had snagged me. I kept trying to tell it that it would be so much happier in it’s new location with more sun, but it was not hearing me. :-)

Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268