Bare Essentials

Trevor explains his love for bare rose stems

Before the seccateurs come out in Spring there is the chance to appreciate a rose stripped back to its bare essentials, basically just stems and prickles. Without its leaves and flowers this might not seem particularly exciting but for me there is still much to be admired in the amazing diversity of colour and armament. You will have to steer yourselves away from more modern hybrids (as these do tend to appear all pretty much alike) and venture into the realms of older and wilder varieties.

In the photograph I gathered together just a small collection of stems from our rose field just to highlight this. Stems can come in every possible shade of green but the ghostly hues of Rosa soulieana and its hybrids really stand out. Away from green there are pale browns (rugosas), russetts and even mahogany (Canary Bird) and red (Amadis). The overall finish can be either matt, gloss or even flakey as in the case of Rosa roxburghii.

In the recent past the word ‘thorn’ has been highjacked and we must now use prickle to denote the armour of roses. Not top of the list of endearing features for many, but again they can offer a further dimension, not just aesthetically but also for their deterrant properties. From the completely naked Bousault roses (eg Amadis, Morletii and Mme. Sancy de Parabere) to the Stegasaurus-like appendages of Rosa sericea ‘Pteracantha’ there is a vast array of sizes shapes and configurations. Personally I just love the stems of ‘Moussu du Japon‘ , more hairy caterpiller than rose.

There is always more to a rose than just a pretty face, sometimes its sheer naked attraction.

Varieties in photo top to bottom:
Rosa sericea ‘Pteracantha’
Moussu du Japon
Rosa foetida ‘Bicolor’
Rosa woodsii ‘Fendleri’
Canary Bird
Rosa suffulta
Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Dunwich Rose’
Hebes Lip
Rosa x kochiana
Rosa farreri ‘Persetosa’
Rosa roxburghii
Rosa stellata ‘Mirifica’
Rosa gallica
Rosa soulieana

Assortment of Rose Stems.