Saturday, June 14, 2014

Feral Roses

feral  (adjective)
in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication.

About three miles from my house, at the intersection of two well-traveled country roads, there are rambling roses climbing trees and scrambling through the grass and brambles.

These roses resemble 'Dorothy Perkins', a rambler rose that was introduced in 1901 and has been wildly popular in gardens.  It is vigorous, floriferous, and the only thing that really bothers it is powdery mildew in the summer.

On one side of this intersection, the pink rose is growing through the undergrowth and it cascades from the trees.  On the other side of the intersection, the pink rose has mutated ... and there are FOUR colors of flowers on canes that scamper through the tall grass.

Dark pink, light pink, and white

Dark pink and white

A mutation like this is called a 'Sport'

sport  (noun)
an animal or plant showing abnormal or striking variation from the parent type, especially in form or color, as a result of spontaneous mutation.

The medium pink form of this rose (the original color) has naturalized in many areas of my region.  It's not a wild rose, in the sense that it is native ... it is an introduced plant that has escaped and been spread around.  As a once-bloomer, it has a fantastic show of pink flowers for a couple of weeks or more in early summer.  For the rest of the year, it creeps and grows, gets bush-hogged and run over, and survives on its own.

I have seen sports on the original pink rose before ... sometimes pink to dark pink, other times pink to white.  The change from medium pink to the light pink is subtle, and I don't remember noticing it before.  This is the only place where I have ever seen all of the colors growing happily at the same time.

Each year when I see that these roses are blooming, I try to remember to go back with my camera to photograph them and record the variation in the colors of the flowers.  Each year, I promptly get busy with something else and forget to do this.  By the time I remember, the roses have quit flowering or are past peak.  This year, I'm happy that I finally remembered and that I caught them looking their absolute best!

If I was inclined to do it, cuttings taken from the plants with various colors of this rose are stable and will produce plants with that color flower  (though they sometimes revert to the original color later)  

Here are links to more info on the sports of Dorothy Perkins.
Red Dorothy Perkins
White Dorothy Perkins


  1. Ahhhhh....roses and kudzu growing side by side along a country road. Fond memories.......your photography is stellar!

  2. I wish feral roses would show up in my yard!

  3. Dorthy Perkins huh? Well now I know what to call my wild pedestrian-eating roses. Thankfully it's one of the early plantings that's survived the neglect all these years.

  4. Lovely!!!! I just love them looking so natural and climbing trees. Looks like a wee bit of England there. Thanks for taking the time to go back and capture them for us.

  5. Well how interesting! I had no idea they would mutate and change colors. You taught me something you often do.

  6. I wonder how many drive by this same place and don't notice the beautiful roses blooming among the weeds? I love that for they have been enjoyed and are remembered by someone like you who truly appreciates their unique beauty! :-)

  7. YOU are just a fount of knowledge about roses, Connie. I love reading what you share with us. Roses of any kind are beautiful to me. Lovely!!! Have a great Sunday- xo Diana

  8. Thank you for this informative and lovely post about these roses. I'm so glad you remembered to grab your camera and capture their beauty this year. What a delight to see these growing in the wild like they are doing!

    Have a lovely Sunday ~ FlowerLady

  9. Absolutely gorgeous photos, Connie. May The Husband have a Happy Fathers Day.

  10. How do you think they got there? Could seeds be deposited by birds? Or was there perhaps a house there many years ago?

  11. I am a bit amazed at how many roses growing 'wild' I now spot along the roadways since attending your talk.
    They've always been there, yet not seen before with these eyes. Opening the mind to new knowledge and sights is a wonderful gift. Thank-you.

  12. Oh how neat! This looks a lot like one of the roses I need help identifying. I took photos this year at their peak, but I moved the files during a photo dump, and it's taken me longer than it should to re-locate them.

    Thanks for the lesson, you're always a wealth of knowledge!!


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