Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back in the 70s an extremely carefree pink rose was common in older Tampa neighborhoods, and my elderly neighbors plus most folks called it "Cracker Rose". There was a magnificent one near my rental at Suwanee and Powhatan in Seminole Heights that had been trained to the shape and stature of a small crape myrtle tree. Excellent fragrance, extreme health and vigor, very rarely sets hips. They also used to be common in Hyde Park. There is a whole hedge of it by a hotel on Davis Island, and a short distance away there are a few in the yard of Donna Massari Bevis whose yard I helped her care for for 19 years or so.....I think she said her uncle planted them, also calling it "Cracker Rose". There is a big hedge of it on Himes Avenue a few blocks from here....he's had them for many years and as a long time Tampa resident he too calls it "Cracker Rose". When I bought my south Tampa home in 1998 I was delighted to see that my neighbors a few houses down had one that they'd had for decades...they too called it "Cracker Rose". Roots easily from cuttings, a classic pass along rose. In the early 90s I added "Pink" to the name when two central Florida rosarians who insisted it did not exist because THEY had never heard of it, said I was causing confusion regarding 'Louis Philippe' by calling it what I'd heard Tampans call it for decades. Oddly, both misidentified a long hedge of it at Florida Southern College as 'Old Blush' even though I and another fan of "Pink Cracker Rose" pointed out that 'Old Blush' sets LOTS of hips and tends to be a shorter bush vs. PCR often becoming a 12 foot tall pillar rose. When I showed it to Joyce Demits she agreed with my best guess as to its ID after years of obsessing on it....likely 'Burbank', possibly its sister seedling 'Santa Rosa'. It is wonderfully scented, virtually indestructible and I feel far superior to any of the 'Knockout' roses. Form and petal count is best in winter. Some springs, a very vigorous basal shoot can emerge and erupt into a truly massive candelabra of blooms. Years ago I mailed one to Fred Boutin where it thrived for him...he was stumped as to the ID but agreed quickly that it is not 'Old Blush' as both of those rosarians insisted when folks would bring branches to the Old Roses meetings at the campus. Fred felt the candelabras suggested possible Noisette in the lineage. I intend to propagate and sell many of them as it is a Florida rose lover's dream and I'd love to see it in many yards again. Sadly, it has proven to be extremely sterile despite my having done a vast number of crosses using it as both seed and pollen parent.


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