Some roses are simply easy to love. Rosa chinensis ‘Old Blush’, supposedly hardy to USDA Zone 6 (and definitely to Zone 7a), goes by many different monikers, including ‘Parson’s Pink China’ (as it is still known in England), “Old Pink Daily,” “Daisy Rose,” and “Common Monthly.” As a shrub and in its climbing sport, it is one of my best garden performers.
As Thomas Christopher, author of In Search of Lost Roses, writes in Roses: A Celebration,
“The clustered blossoms, casual three-inch cups of clear pink petals, though lovely, lack the elegance of a modern hybrid tea, but they also have the virtue of persistence.”
Living out in the country, where the wind whips over the plains, there is nothing I like better in a rose than persistence.
A story I once read stated this rose was called ‘Common Monthly’ by settlers because, as they brought it west, it bloomed nearly every month of the year. In my Oklahoma garden, it is the first rose to unfurl its leaves and bloom; the climber starts the show with the shrub not far behind. Over the course of spring, the climber blooms in a series of flushes and then mostly stops (except for the occasional flower) in summer. However, the shrub, like the Energizer Bunny, just keeps going and going. Its flowers may be fried by the hot sun, but that doesn’t stop it. It also laughs at Jack Frost when a late April freeze comes its way.
As its botanical name attests, R. chinensis ‘Old Blush’ is a china rose with the thin, light green leaves of such. No leathery, shiny foliage graces its canes and very little blackspot either. In fact, it is unbothered by most insects and diseases, although, in some years, thrips are a problem in early spring. No matter, since it continues to bloom throughout the rest of the gardening season. Although china roses tend to like warmer climes, ‘Old Blush’ also shrugs off cold. My shrubs are planted in the middle of the Garden of Shame facing the street where they get no extra love or protection.
This year, as the weather cooled off for fall, the climber started to produce roses in threes and fours, while the shrub was again covered in pink beauty. Fall progressed, but as of last week, my area saw only slight freezes, which barely nipped the beautiful buds. I began to wonder if winter would ever arrive. This week saw cold temps of 28F, and the pink blooms finally froze half open on their canes.
Although the bloom form has been described as looking like a wadded up tissue, I think it is unfair. Not everyone is the Queen of the ball, but she can be a princess worthy of a place at the royal table.
Instead, maybe ‘Old Blush’ should be considered a prince. This unassuming little shrub (maxing out in my garden at four feet high and wide) is quite the romantic, and is actually considered one of the “four stud Chinas” which lent their DNA to every modern rose. According to the introduction to Roses: A Celebration, edited by Wayne Winterrowd, on the Ile de Bourbon (now Reunion), ‘Old Blush’ mated with an ancient Autumn Damask and created the Bourbans, an entirely new class of roses which retained the china class’s remontant (reblooming) habit.
Added to all of its other attributes is a light and refreshing fragrance which floats over the garden in the early morn. If you live in USDA Zone 7 or warmer, there is nothing nicer than pulling weeds beneath a bower of this handsome rose, and I can’t think of a nicer plant to grow.
Nope, doesn’t look like wadded up tissues to me, Dee, but it might do in my soggy, foggy Fundy climate! I do have problems with messy, balled blooms on some of my roses when the July fogs roll in, but they straighten out in August. I don’t have this rose, but think I should.
I love this rose and wish I could grow it in Ohio. Saw it at the Antique Rose Emporium a few years back. Lovely.
Ok, OK, you’ve twisted my arm enough already. Will buy Old Blush come spring as it looks and sounds like a winner to me, And it has a scent, what more could I possibly want?
.-= Yolanda Elizabet´s last blog ..Bulbalicious =-.
I know you grow lots of roses, Dee, so this is quite an endorsement coming from you! I don’t grow roses, other than a few Knockouts, because I know I don’t have the patience to give them the attention they deserve. I’m all for persistence and faithfulness–if “Old Blush” were hardy in zone 5, I’d definitely try one!
.-= Rose´s last blog ..ABC Wednesday: Not the Usual =-.
The rose is beautiful and I am determined to find one for my own rose garden. Thanks for sharing the pictures and all the information. BTW, the rose is beautiful at all phases to me including the “wadded tissue” phase.
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..More Christmas! =-.
It’s a beautiful rose! Thanks for the information!
.-= Tatyana´s last blog ..Where The Green Thumb Lives =-.
It’s a truly beautiful rose. We had quite a freeze here last weekend, and I lost lots of plants. Made me sad to see them all shriveled and brown.
.-= Brenda Kula´s last blog ..More To The Story =-.
Oh what a lovely and interesting post.
I know this as Old Blush China and yes David Austen describes it as the Monthly rose too.
It is not in a good positin in my garden but nevertheless has a long flowering season.
.-= Joanne´s last blog ..NOVEMBER IN THE GARDEN =-.
Carol, May Dreams Gardens
I should have stopped reading about this rose when you mentioned it was hardy to zone 6, just shy of my zone 5b garden, darn it! Your description of it and its history made me want it!
.-= Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog ..After All… =-.
I used to have Old Blush in my old garden. I loved its tenacity. I remember one Valentine’s Day it was absolutely covered with blooms! Interesting about the early pioneers calling it Common Monthly. I think that’s too common of a name for it! 🙂
.-= Jean´s last blog ..The Birds are Back and so is the Work =-.
Ramble on Rose
That definitely does not look like wadded up tissue. It’s too bad it couldn’t grow here!
.-= Ramble on Rose´s last blog ..Seed Giveaway Contest! =-.
Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening
I have a rooted piece of a double pink rose from my neighbor’s garden, which my daughter dug before the neighbor moved away. The neighbor’s house was quite old, so maybe the rose is, too. It hasn’t bloomed since we planted it here, but it’s still building up strength. I hope to one day know its name. Don’t think it could be your rose, too cold.
.-= Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening´s last blog ..Hudson River Valley Farms: Book Review =-.
Lisa at Greenbow
The rose you say looks like wadded up tissue looks like some of the camellias I have been seeing on other blogs. I often think camillias look like roses. This rose is a beautiful color.
I always wished I could grow the Chinas here. I agree, the wadded Kleenex description was obviously coined by someone who grew HT’s:) Not very accurate.
Great post for a great rose. I have one that I’ve moved several times and it hasn’t phased it.
.-= Phillip´s last blog ..Camellia "Debutante" =-.
Hi Phillip, it is a wonderful rose and thanks.~~Dee
Dee, What a lovely rose and to think that she is a grandparent to other beautiful roses speaks to her good qualities. gail
.-= Gail´s last blog ..Mishing And Mashing on Monday =-.
Hi Gail, yes, a great, great grandparent to nearly every modern rose. Too bad some them didn’t get her resiliency.~~Dee
Oh Dee, we have two of this beautiful rose and quite agree, it is a hardworking garden resident. This old rose is so tough, we even moved it from the ground in our Texas garden and brought it here with no let up of blooms. Our weather has been colder, lows in the lower twenties for several days, freezing many things out of bloom. Not Old Blush. Casual, I like that, and persistent is a high compliment to any plant. 🙂
.-= Frances´s last blog ..Scrappy* Blogaversary =-.
Hi Frances, “persistent” is indeed a compliment unless we’re talking about weeds. 🙂 ~~Dee