Rosa gigantea is a rare rose in this country. Not many people would want to grow it, since, as its name implies, it’s HUGE! So how do I happen to have one? 10 or so years ago, I was visiting Bill Grant, who had been a member of the Species Round Robin for many years. Viru, in India, had collected seeds in its native habitat so he could grow it and use it in breeding roses for warm climates. He sent seeds to Bill, who gave me a little baggie of them. I put them in my fridge and forgot about them for several months. When I noticed them there, I planted them, and several sprouted, but only one thrived. I moved it into a gallon pulp pot, and the next year put that pot into a large pulp pot, and when the roots came out the bottom, I put the whole pot into the ground by the corner of the shed, hoping it would cover the thing. Next to the corner of the shed was the kids swing set my husband had built, no longer in use. The gigantea decided to cover that instead of the shed. In a couple of years it was blooming, the first to bloom of the seeds and plants Bill had spread around. Bill’s own plant was started before mine and growing far up a redwood, but didn’t bloom till the next year. Sadly, Bill’s plant died suddenly a few years later. I suspect a gopher.
I apparently have the perfect climate for this rose – occasional frost in the winter, lots of fog in the summer – never very cold, never very hot. I don’t water or fertilize it, but I suspect it has roots deep enough to find groundwater. Here are a couple of pictures of my gigantea as it looked in March of 2008:
Then came a windstorm in late winter on 2009. The gigantea was again in full bloom. The wind and weight of the monster rose was too much for the old swing support, and down it all went, with all the bloom landing on the ground.
Here are several pictures as it looked right after:
The old support:
None of the basal canes broke, fortunately, so the monster continued to grow as if nothing had happened. But since the plant was now sideways, it was growing toward the carport.
Over the course of the next several months, we removed the remains of the swing support, planned a new sturdier support, and bought posts and cement. We have a post hole digger, since we have a fence along 3 sides of the property. So in June, we finally started in on the new structure. A few pictures of the new support being built:
Adding the horizontal supports:
At this point, major surgery was required on the rose. There was no way to pull the thing up onto the new structure. Plus, all the canes were intertwined. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but – THIS ROSE IS ARMED TO THE TEETH!!! One risks serious injury trying to attach ropes to pull it up. So what had been the upper half of the rose, and all of the new growth had to go. On Thanksgiving, with help from Frank and Mark, my son-in-law, pushing with rakes from the tool shed side, and pulling the ropes on the support side, we got the monster secured. And once it was tied up, the rope had to stay. My hope is that it will intertwine itself into staying in this position by the time the ropes rot. I really don’t want to go through that again!
The gigantea lost no time adjusting to its new position. Here it is in July of 2010, just eight months after the previous pictures:
So now it is March, 2010, and again Gigantea is in full bloom.