May 25th, 2007
Hybrid Musk Rose ‘Penelope’ Austin, TX 2003-11-03. ‘Penelope’ is no blushing, virginal rosebud, but a fullblown, dowager beauty.
I had to pull up ‘Penelope’ today and put it a plastic bag in the trash. I never put my rose cuttings on the compost because it is too easy to spread diseases and ‘Penelope’ succumbed to rose dieback.
I’m really surprised because last fall when ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’ struggled and died and ‘Prosperity’ held on by one cane (and has now sprouted a second), ‘Penelope’ was growing strong. She had gotten huge and her leaves were large and a deep healthy green. This spring she bloomed more profusely than ever before.
Then as soon as the flowers faded she showed the tell-tale signs. All the leaves on a cane turned yellow overnight.
I tried stripping the leaves and cutting back the canes to green wood. But it didn’t help. In three weeks she went from looking gorgeous to dead.
In A Year of Roses Stephen Scanniello says that dieback is a fungal disease and can be spread by allowing water to splash on the leaves when watering or a stressful situation (like last year!) when the roses don’t get enough water. Insects can also spread dieback as the gardener by pruning one rose and then another without sterilyzing (dipping in bleach) the pruning shears.
2007-05-25. Tell-tale signs of cane dieback.
Zanthan Gardens History
I fell in love with ‘Penelope’ the first time I saw a photo of her. Creamy white, blush of pink, peaches and cream–she was all of these. But her most entrancing characteristic was that she seemed to be lit from within. She glowed.
So last year, ‘Penelope’ was on my list of “must buy” roses when we went to the Antique Rose Emporium. That day the ‘Penelope’ roses were looking peaked, so I came home with her older sister ‘Prosperity’ instead. (Both were developed by Joseph Pemberton.)
Happily, this year I found a healthly looking ‘Penelope’ at Barton Springs Nursery (supplied by the Antique Rose Emporium).
Now into her fourth spring in my garden the Hybrid musk rose ‘Penelope’ has really matured. She has produced many large sprays at the end of her long arching boughs, often with up to a dozen flowers in each spray creating an instant bouquet. Like the other hybrid musk roses (‘Prosperity’ and ‘Buff Beauty’) one large flower (3 inches across) blooms first and then as it fades the others in the bouquet open. I’ve read that you’re suppose to pinch the early flower in the bud, but I never do.
Hybrid Musk Rose ‘Penelope’ Austin, TX 2006-03-29. Still wet from yesterday’s record 4 inches of rain.
In my mind ‘Penelope’ is a white rose and am surprised when I look back over my photographs to see her in color. When temperatures are cool (below 60), the flowers open a soft, peachy pink. But when that the temperatures are in the 90s, the color drains away.
This year she leafed out before the spring cankerworms began their assault, but she is particularly affected by them because of her velvety leaves and habit of forming the buds on short stems inside the leaves.
Hybrid musk roses have the reputation of blooming well in filtered shade even with only 5 hours of sunlight. However, I find that ‘Penelope’ blooms does not bloom well after the trees have leafed out. Whether that’s due to lack of sunlight or too much heat, I can’t tell yet.
by M Sinclair Stevens