The MRS Newsletter has frequently commented on
Climbing and Rambling Roses and has listed the more popular varieties. To be correct,
at this point in time, we must refer to Climbers (LCl): which signifies “large
flowering climber” and Hybrid Wichuranas (HWich). A number of classifications
of roses have varieties which have mutated climbing forms. There are Climbing Floribundas,
for example, Climbing Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras, Climbing Polyanthas and Climbing
The ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses for 2003 lists
a number of Large Flowering Clinbers in order of rating.The list includes 19 varieties,
presumably all that have earned a rating of 8.0 or above. Alas, in the list there is
only one Hybrid Wichurana, Newport Fairy (single, pink blend, 1908). No other Hybrid
Wichurana, although there are many great ones, is rated 8.0 or above.
For example, American Pillar, created by Dr. Van Fleet
in 1902, is a fragrant, crimson-carmine Hybrid Wichurana with a distinctive white eye.
It appears throughout the world and
is admired wherever it is grown. This rose has stood the test of time, 100 years,
but it is rated only 7.9. What a shame!
Even worse is the case of Dorothy Perkins, a HWich dating
back to 1901. It is a white to pink variety with crimson and scarlet centers. It too
is grown worldwide and appreciated for its color, form and abundance of blooms. It
is growing on a fence in my backyard and when in bloom is a rose that inevitably draws
favorable comments from visitors. It can be spectacular! This famous rose is rated
6.9, an insult!
The reason for the pathetic ratings of these two giants
among roses is probably due to their one period of bloom, which although it lasts for
several weeks, does not repeat. Newport Fairy is an exception to this once-blooming
criticism. Strange, we enjoy other flowers in our gardens that bloom but once each
year, but somehow we cannot tolerate that trait in roses. A further indication of the
penalty of once-blooming is demonstrated in the case of Dr. W. Van Fleet and New Dawn.
Dr. W. Van Fleet, a light pink Large Flowering Climber (LCl) introduced in 1910 is
not a repeat bloomer, while a mutation of that variety, New Dawn, is. Dr. W. Van Fleet
is rated 8.0, but New Dawn enjoys an 8.6 rating.
Sadly, with the exception of Newport Fairy, none of
the Hybrid Wichuranas (Ramblers) are rated very highly. Alberic Barbier, a light yellow
variety, developed in 1900 and American Pillar, mentioned above, have earned a 7.9
rating, but that’s as high as these varieties are rated, with the one exception.
Dorothy Perkins is rated at 6.9 and Etain, an orange pink, of fairly recent development
(1953), received a 7.1 rating.
Others Hybrid Wichuranas including Aviateur Beroit (yellow
blend, 1910), Crimson Shower (medium red, 1951), Gardenia (white, 1899), May Queen(
light pink, 1898), Minnehaha (light pink, 1905), Sanders White Rambler (white, 1912),
and Seagull (white, 1907), although listed, are not rated because an insufficient number
of reports have been received to establish a proper rating.
Those of the above that I am familiar with are fine
varieties and should appear in more gardens than they do. Two Hybrid Wichuranas in
my garden, Gerisenda (pink blend, 1911) and White Tausendschön, (white, 1913)
are not listed at all, but deserve a rating, in my judgement, of 8.0 or above.
A frequently asked question by garden club members is
the name of a good climber for a trellis they have or intend to have put in.
One answer, and not a bad one is to recommend one of
the top rated Large Flowering Climbers. These are listed in the ARS Handbook for Selecting
Roses. For the benefit of those members who may not be as yet members of the American
Rose Society and thus receive the Handbook with their regular membership, the top 11
(Ratings of 8.3 or above) will be reproduced here.
|TOP RATED CLIMBING ROSES
|1. Clair Matin
|2. Royal Sunset
|3. City of York
|4. Dublin Bay
|5. New Dawn
|6. Newport Fairy
|9. Rosarium Ueteresen
In previous years both America and Altissimo have
headed the list of the highest rated climbers.
So the answer is simple, if you want the best climber
(highest rated), simply find out what nursery carries it and order it for spring planting.
Not quite, for there are other climbing varieties that are not listed as LCl’s
or HWich’s. For example, the climbing roses from Kordes in Germany are listed
as Hybrid Kordesii (HKor); and then there are the Climbing Hybrid Teas (Cl HT), Climbing
Floribundas (Cl F), Climbing Polyanthas (Cl Pol) and Climbing Miniatures (Cl Min).
Certainly, in selecting the highest rated climber, we
should look at those from Germany. Dortmund (medium red, 1955) is rated 9.2, higher
than any of the LCl’s. Other Hybrid Kordesii varieties and their ratings are
|TOP RATED CLIMBING ROSES
|1. John Cabot
|2. William Baffin
|4. John Davis
You’ll find these roses listed among the Shrub Roses in the Handbook.
The highest rated Climbing Hybrid Tea (Cl HT) is Dainty
Bess, rated 8.6. The Hybrid Tea form is rated the same. If you have ever seen this
rose, I’m sure you have it. It’s a beauty.
Cecile Brunner (Mlle Cecile Brunner) would be my choice
for the best Climbing Polyantha (Cl Pol). It is light pink and is rated 8.3. Member
Beth Kerr has this rose climbing a tree in her garden. It reaches 15 feet or more.
A real focal point.
My choice for best Climbing Miniature is Jeanne Lajoie,
it is medium pink in color and is rated 9.2. As member Bonnie Keller told me, you can’t
go wrong with this one! Pick your climber from the above and you can’t go wrong.
-Al Ford (Editor, MRS Newsletter) 2002