About 11 years ago, my friend Tamara gave me a rooted cutting of this rose, which I planted on the front corner of the barn.
That section was added to the barn in the 1960s as a studio and sales room for the wooden toys that my husband’s parents used to make. Rosa banksia is thornless (I know roses have prickles, not thorns, but prickleless just sounds silly), yet manages to climb with very little support needed. The first couple years, we put a few hooks on the front wall and tied the canes to it so they didn’t flop over the driveway and get in the way of the cars. Once it reached the top of the wall, it found that the trim wood wasn’t well attached to the corrugated metal roofing, and little canes could get through between them. Once through, they produced many small canes arching over the edge of the roof. One cane went along the side of the studio, and has worked its way through one of the battens as well as part of the roof trim.
A few years ago, my husband got on the roof and cut off the canes at the roofline, but never got under the roof to cut them off there, so they just sprouted back the next year. People say banksia roses are house eaters. You’ve been warned. Someday we’ll probably have to do major surgery on this rose, and several repairs to the studio walls and roof.
There are four varieties of the banksiae roses. They are said to smell like violets, but I can’t smell them or violets, so I guess I have a genetic defect there. A bit frustrating when people say how marvelous it smells. The normalis grows wild in Sichuan Province, China, where it is known as Qi Li Xiang. The first western descriptions date to 1796. It was introduced to Europe about 1877.
In Sacramento last weekend, the banksiae roses were wonderful. Usually, they are about done by the date of the Open Garden at the Old City Cemetery Historic Rose Garden, but our wet late winter-early spring has delayed peak bloom dates. They have the normalis up a huge Pine tree. It was past its peak bloom, but still pretty spectacular:
Janelle took at picture of it a few years ago at peak bloom, and posted it on HelpMeFind, which you can see here: Janelle’s Photo
Here is their Rosa banksiae var. banksiae, the double sport of the normalis. This is the one known as the Lady Banks Rose, and was introduced to the United Kingdom in 1807.
The double yellow form, Rosa banksiae lutea was introduced in the UK in 1824, and is the most popular around here. At a local park, the landscapers have shaped it into “gumdrops”- 3 foot high rounded bushes. Of course it looks ridiculous, but there is a positive effect- it has some bloom on it most of the season. Normally it is a once bloomer with scattered later flowers. In Sacramento, it is climbing a tall tree:
The fourth variety is the single yellow, Rosa banksiae lutescens. It’s the least common around here, and I don’t have any pictures to show. Instead, I’ll share other pictures I took during the Open Garden weekend. I’m not writing about the Open Garden this year, as the events were pretty similar to last year, and you can read about that in my older posts.