Rosa moyesii

This is one of the most dramatic summer-flowering rose species, for the shrub is very tall and erect, up to 10 feet (3 m) high, and the single flowers which line the branches are blood-red. The ferny leaves, consisting of many leaflets, are a pleasure to the eye all through the summer, and the fruits which follow in late summer are large, scarlet and curiously shaped like miniature pitchers. It is a vigorous rose, given any good garden soil. It was introduced to the West from China in 1903 by E.H. Wilson, and named after a missionary, the Rev. J. Moyes.

Many of our best Chinese plants were collected at the turn of the century by missionaries, especially the French Jesuits. Like Pere Delavay and Pere David, who botanized when they could spare time from converting the heathen. There are several cultivars of R. moyesii, of which ‘Geranium’, with scarlet flowers, is outstanding, smaller than the species, and more suitable for small gardens.

Rosa moyesii is unusually vertical in growth, indeed almost gaunt, and needs careful underplanting with herbaceous flowers. Alchemilia mollis is, as always, perfect, or blue hardy geraniums, like ‘Johnson’s Blue’, could run in and out among the rose’s roots and stray towards the front of the border.

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