“Roses are red; violets are blue.”
These words date back to 1590, from Sir Edmund Spenser‘s epic poem, The Faerie Queene. Though classic, this poem may not have stood the test of time. Yes, many roses today are still red, as are many violets blue. But roses today run the gamut of colors, including blue(ish). In actuality, there is no such thing as a genuinely blue rose. But, this month’s Plant of the Month is as close as it gets.
Rosa ‘Veilchenblau’, also known by the names ‘Blue Rambler’, ‘Blue Rosalie’, and ‘Violet Blue’ is a vigorous multiflora climber-rose cultivar that was bred in Germany in the early 1900s. Known as one of the bluest of the old rambling roses, ‘Veilchenblau’ produces small, semi-double purple blooms that fade to blue with age. Its flowers grow on nearly thornless canes that can grow up to 15 feet tall by 12 feet wide. Flower color remains best when the plant is protected from midday sun.
Here at the Scott Arboretum, Rosa ‘Veilchenblau’ can be found in the Dean Bond Rose Garden, along with over 660 other roses that represent 200 different rose types. The Dean Bond Rose Garden will be showing beautifully all of this month and, at the end of May, will play a role in one of Swarthmore College’s beloved annual traditions. The morning of commencement, every graduating senior will have a freshly-cut rose from the garden pinned to their graduation gowns by one of the Arboretum’s staff or volunteers. We are happy to put our roses, such as Rosa ‘Veilchenblau’ (which happens to make a lovely cut flower!), to good use. But, don’t worry. Even after this special commencement tradition comes and goes, there will still be many roses left in the garden to visit and appreciate…in colors both red (like the old adage) and beyond!
Also enjoy a summer evening in the Dean Bond Rose Garden with good friends and refreshments on Thursday, June 18 for Sunset Sippin’: White Roses and Whirlwind Wit.