The first couple years I was the Curator of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, I worked on making the database more usable- new layouts, changing the system of having default roses assigned to each location, and generally getting organized. Eventually, I realized I needed to do a systematic inventory of the garden. There are always surprises when one does inventory- roses where the space is supposed to be empty, empty spaces where no one has reported that a rose died, labeling errors, misplaced plaques, and on and on…
The first time I did an inventory, I skipped the Courtyard Garden with its many miniature roses and very few labels. I also skipped the inner ring of the garden, which is also minis. The second time I also skipped the Courtyard, but got help from Terry on the inner ring of minis. She was a big help, as she loves miniature roses and could tell if a mini is correctly labeled. There were many differences between what we found in the inner ring and what was listed in the database. Not all the roses were in bloom when she came to help me, so we didn’t get it all sorted out, but we did figure out that the first row of section P had a numbering problem. For example, the rose labeled as space 10 was planted in space 3. The plaques had recently been placed there, in numerical order, so they didn’t match up with the roses. Without Terry, I doubt I could have figured out which ones were there, and which had died.
This time I decided to start inventory with that row. With some help from HelpMeFind.com, and friends on rose forums, I was able to figure out which rose was which in the first row. Now we can finally get the plaques redone and renumber as needed to get them in numerical order. Just behind these roses, I noticed that there were two roses with labels. The database said these roses died several years ago. Did we replant them in the same location? That was possible with one of them, but the other wasn’t available anymore. It was ‘Cute Buttons’ by Kim Rupert. I took a picture and sent it to Kim. He was quite surprised- hadn’t seen that rose in years, and thinks that might just be it. It’s likely it’s also the only plant of it still alive. So why was it reported dead? Or did the top die, but then new shoots came up from the roots? I guess I’ll never know. Here’s a picture of it:
That was mystery number one. The second ring of Section P is Polyanthas. Not every rose planted there is a polyantha- there were errors, leading to some very large plants among the smaller polys. I came across a bright orange-red sort of Floribunda which was labeled as an unknown. A note in the database indicated that Ed (my predecessor) had given Mel cuttings of something for him to propagate, and Mel thought it was the polyantha, ‘Gloria Mundi’, which it clearly didn’t turn out to be. It had fringed stipules and bracts, and both large and small prickles, indicating an odd breeding history. I took detailed photos and uploaded them. Then I emailed Paul Barden, and Kim, two people who know about breeding with uncommon species, and sent them the photo link. Paul suggested Cinnabar by Tantau. The next week, I went back and forth between the two several times. They were very similar, but Cinnabar lacks the small prickles and the amount of fringing on the bracts and stipules. I also looked at another Tantau floribunda with the same color flowers, and with more fringing and prickles, but the flowers were smaller and had more petals. I still don’t have any other ideas for its identity, but I will have it propagated and planted near Cinnabar with other Floribundas. Here are several pictures, in case anyone reading this thinks of a rose it might be.