Rose Cuttings – June, 2008

Two photos taken at the Antique Rose Emporium show the incredible beauty and landscape power of musk roses.
Photos courtesy of Mike Shoup.

A Hybrid Musk Is a MUST!

In 1909 the English Reverend Joseph Pemberton produced a versatile group of roses by breeding an early hybrid multiflora rose, ‘Trier’, with many other varieties, including the wild, fragrant musk rose, Rosa moschata, from which this class gets its name. Though this was 100 years ago, the results are noteworthy even for today’s modern garden.

Unlike roses with chunky, upright growth habits like ‘KnockOut’, ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and ‘Mutabilis’, which have stolen the rose limelight in today’s garden world, many of the hybrid musks are billowing and cascading, often attaining heights and spreads of eight feet. They are the giants of the landscape — fountains that are unmatched in structure, form and fragrance. 

Introductions like ‘Cornelia’, ‘Felicia’ and ‘Ballerina’ are shrubs that grow like graceful cascading fountains, enabling the gardener to use them as either climbers or as free-standing shrubs. Other introductions include roses like ‘Penelope’ and ‘Bishop Darlington’, which exhibit a more upright habit of growth.

Flowers occur in spring but can be more impressive in the fall, especially here in the South, where plants grow very large through the summer. The clusters of flowers are beautiful pastels and blends, the fragrance is outstanding, and the foliage is handsome and disease-resistant. Best of all, because of the loose, open growth habit, these roses have been used successfully in partial shade without sacrificing their graceful appearance.

Noted nurseryman Graham Stuart Thomas summed it up best:  “Unless some keenspirit is prepared to produce some richly colored shrub along the lines adopted by Pemberton, I think this group should remain as it is: carefree flowering shrubs of the greatest value for our gardens at mid-summer or later, delightfully fragrant, and in a fair range of colors and superb value for hedging.” Joseph Pemberton served us well.

About the author: Mike Shoup is the owner of the Antique Rose Emporium. Visit their Brenham and San Antonio display gardens for endless ideas on landscaping with roses. To order roses online, visit

Posted by Neil Sperry
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