Rose of the Month #18
By Gail Ledbetter
Choosing roses to grow in my garden can be done by the plantaholic method – if I fall in love with the catalog picture and decide I must have it; or by using a little detective work – carefully reading the catalog description and looking for clues hidden amidst the hyperbole. Every now and then a description actually provides a gem of useful information.
The Pilgrim growing in my garden is the result of such a gem. Although I no longer remember whose catalog I was reading the key phrase which popped out at me was something like ‘best color with cool nights’. Hey, that’s our climate, cool nights! Yellow was sparsely represented in my garden and I had been studying descriptions of yellow roses very closely, searching for a good one, and it paid off.
The Pilgrim is an Austin rose, introduced in 1991. From their catalog: Approx 170 petals, repeat flowering. Has some of the most perfectly formed blooms. Quite large, shallowly cupped and rosette shaped, the color is medium yellow paling towards the edges… Fragrance is a delicious mix of the classic tea scent and the English myrrh scent. Equally excellent when kept pruned as a relatively upright but bushy shrub or trained as a climber.
This shrub has been in my garden for a number of years and is well established. Only three words are needed: vigorous, floriferous, odiferous. It regularly sends out large arching new canes 8-10 ft long. The Pilgrim absolutely covers itself in flowers, usually a little behind the hybrid teas and floribundas, probably because it takes a little longer to prepare for such a show. Each flower has one or two side buds which makes the bloom flush last a long time. The profusion of flowers creates lots of perfume in that area of the garden though it doesn’t seem overpowering as I would describe it as a soft type of fragrance. With a good feeding it will have a smaller bloom late in the summer. Did I mention that it has few prickles?
Low, wet, cold, slow draining, dense. Lousy attributes for a garden and its soil. Perhaps that leads to the blackspot that this rose can get. A small price to pay for the extravagant beauty The Pilgrim supplies. Normal size planting space, huge vertical display. I think that this rose gives me the most generous display for the space and effort when compared to a hybrid tea or even a floribunda. The Pilgrim is a permanent resident in my garden!