Rosa glauca

One of the loveliest of all rose species, Rosa glauca or R. rubnfolia, a tall shrub with arching branches, is not only a graceful plant in itself, but makes perfect company for all manner of other plants. Though the light clusters of dog-rose flowers, pink with a white eye, have a doll’s-house charm, their season is short, and the great quality of R. glauca is its long-lasting foliage. Blue-green ferny leaves, with a soft bloom on the surface, contrasting with red stalks and midribs, remain fresh from early summer until well into autumn; during all this period branches can be cut for the house, and new shoots will follow. An added interest is the bunches of red berries which appear in late summer.

One of the earliest roses to flower is the modern shrub ‘Canary Bird’. The single yellow flowers smother the arching stems of bushes that can have a height and spread of 7 feet (2.1 m).

The ferny leaves are bluish green.

The rose can be grown in sun or light shade, and a single specimen, or a group of three, in a border would make a telling background for a succession of white flowers – white double peonies, delphiniums, campanulas, phlox and many more. But it will also thrive in deeper shade under trees, when pink or white martagon lilies would be good companions. Personally, I find the foliage grows more luxuriantly in shade.

In many gardens, R. glauca seeds freely, and the seedlings are treasures to be earmarked until they are large enough to transplant. They will, of course, be sucker-free, which is not always true of commercially bought plants if they are grafted on to brier.

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