by Elaine Senft
My passion is growing roses, mostly the old garden varieties. The climate of the southwestern corner of British Columbia is very similar to the climate of Britain other than their soil conditions are of a clay base and ours, an acidic base.
One of my favourite roses, Madame Alfred Carriere, does her thing anywhere! She was born in the mid 1800s and she is a magnificent climber of spectacular beauty and qualities. She is pure innocence, sporting the creamiest white, fluffy, delicately petalled, full flowering, fragrant blossoms you could ever imagine! I'm not prejudiced or anything...having five of her and all! Her status in the rose world is fantastic and she is classified as a ‘Noisette’ rose.
What are Noisettes? Well, they are a family of roses that have been crossed with the China Roses and the Musk Roses. The gentlemen responsible for bringing them to us are Philippe Noisette, a French emigrant and his brother Louis. One of their first seedlings, "Blush Noisette", is used world-wide in gardens.
Most of these roses flower later in the season, rather than early. Clearly, the blooming season of Madame is from June, right into the month of December, given a mild fall. I have gone out and picked blossoms on Christmas Day (admittedly only one year so far)! Good on-going continuous flowering is from June until November.
This past summer, while wandering about my garden, coffee in hand, I did what I always do…go to one of my Madame’s for an early morning chat! I looked up at one of the newer plants of her and said...boy, oh boy...not long now! In my garden, most of my climbers are in their 20’s! Here's what you can expect from a plant of Madame...the first year you plant, she'll sleep; the second year, she'll creep; and the third year, she'll leap! Watch out! The growth is phenomenal! The blossoms are worth waiting for... you'll see what I mean. I have one of her on an arbor in my front garden on the southwest corner...she goes crazy there and her very supple canes make it very easy to lay her across an arbor. Plus, she's relatively thornless!
In the Southern US she has been known to grow to be 25'. Now, that's with oodles of heat!!! Mine up here grow around 15'. As far as hardiness, zones 6-9, and up, but, alas, she’s a little tender for Prairie weather.