Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Good Doctor

I was excited to see that most of the roses in my new Miniature Garden survived the winter in good shape.  (This is a new garden, planted last summer, so this was the first winter in the ground for these roses.)  A few were damaged significantly, but they have come back and are growing strongly now.  There was one rose in particular that I was surprised to see doing so well, because it looked pretty weak when I planted it ... coming back with vigorous growth and lots of buds.  When the buds opened, they were not the pale pink I was expecting, but dark red.

Rootstock.  The pale pink rose portion of this plant that I bought and carefully nurtured had died, and it was replaced by sprouts of the below-ground rootstock portion of this grafted rose.

This rose is called 'Dr. Huey', a once-blooming rose introduced in 1920 and named for a good friend of the hybridizer.  It was a revolutionary color at the time, and it is now valued less as a garden rose and more as a rootstock onto which other roses are grafted.  Because of this use, it is probably the most popular rose in America ... as escaped rootstock suckers have overtaken the grafted variety in millions of roses throughout the country, and 'Dr. Huey' is everywhere in bloom at this time of year.

I briefly thought about leaving 'Dr. Huey' in this spot in the garden, but I changed my mind.  This rose is horribly susceptible to blackspot, and it's a climber that would be growing in a space that was chosen for a Hybrid Tea or Shrub rose when I designed the garden.  Yesterday morning, I dug up 'Dr. Huey' and replaced him with 'Birdie Blye'.  Since 'Dr. Huey' was growing and flowering so well, I didn't have the heart to trash it.  Instead, I did this:

Later in the afternoon, I saw a lady in a small grey sedan, with a little dog riding shotgun, stop and load 'Dr. Huey' into the back seat of her car.

I didn't want The Good Doctor to live here, but I'm glad to know that he has a new home ... a home with a dog person, no less.  Makes me smile.


  1. I am SO glad to see this! I see this rose around so many old houses this time of year. It's the only rose my sister has ever expressed any interest in (she likes that it looks wild) and I've never been able to figure out what it was!

  2. I loved Dr. Huey! I had it in two places from grafted HTs. I always thought of it as a damn good azalea (with thorns)! But then I was always partial to once bloomers. Bigger Spring show. Brennus and Chevy Chase were up there high on my list too, with the reds.

  3. Ha! I, too, have been toying with the identity of a rose with dark crimson-red blooms that grew spectacularly this spring; turned out to be a Dr. Huey transplant from elsewhere! Although I also liked the flowers, I know how it blackspots here as well, so this morning it was replaced with one of a "two-for-ten-dollar" sale pottled roses from Home Depot. I bought two of those yesterday; They are mislabeled as "Love", but both were striped; one cupped and fragrant that I think is Variegata di Bologna and the other lighter pink-red striped one could be Honorine de Brabant. They were both blooming, so at least I know they're not Dr. Huey!

  4. Ahh, this is how it rose dealers you! First you give us one for free and then we're hooked! hehe! You should see my New Dawn (the one I got from you) this is covering most of the side of the house, and it smells amazing!

    xo Kat

  5. What a nice story with a happy ending.

    Since Dr. Huey gets blackspot, do roses grafted onto this stock also get bs? Also, do they bloom more than once a year? Inquiring minds would like to know. :-)


  6. Good question! I love questions.

    Rootstock roses like Dr. Huey do an invisible job of providing vigorous roots for the grafted variety, unless the rootstock suckers and begins competing with the grafted variety. The grafted variety may get some vigor from having Dr. Huey’s roots to grow on, but nothing else … it is what it is, whether once or repeat blooming, susceptible to blackspot or not, etc. The rootstock doesn’t change the basic characteristics of the grafted variety.

  7. Well I think, Dr. Huey visited my rose bed too this year. My Voodoo Rose seems to have died but up came some shoots with blooms and low and behold they look suspiciously like your rose. How neat that someone came by and took your unwanted bush. Loved your sign by the way.


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