It is said that the last rose of summer is the most beautiful of all. In this strange-weathered summer we've had, any roses we've been privileged to have are appreciated for the effort they've made. But tonight, as I shut the door on the garage sale and took the first walk-through of the gardens for the day, I have to say the adage must be true. 'Diana, Princess of Wales' was there in all her royal glory, looking as fine as ever.
I've not been particularly pleased with the overall performance of this rose. A Jackson & Perkins introduction in 1998, I bought my first one in 2006. It bloomed off and on all summer and the best I could say about it is that its fragrance is heady and wonderful. Blooms are beautiful, but stems are weak. And that constantly browning foliage is just frustrating. The leaves start out fairly well, but shortly after they unfurl, many of them turn a tan color and become crispy, as if they've got fertilizer burn. But that isn't the case.
At first, I considered that maybe cats were spraying it, one in particular (Jinx). It plodded along that first summer with beautiful blooms and the bothersome problems. The following spring it didn't have it within itself to face another summer. But I replaced it.
Then I happened to talk to Jon and Nancy while on a garden walk and they were expressing their frustrations with a rose they'd purchased this spring. It had strange browning leaves all the time. Yep, 'Diana, Princess of Wales.' They were having the same experience I'd had, and neither of us have had this problem with any of our other roses.
To add insult to injury, my new 'Diana' was doing the same thing. I couldn't blame Jinx either, because we no longer had Jinx in our kitty family. So now we're at summer's end and there is this beautiful bloom, yet still the ever-present browning foliage. It leaves me wondering if this one will go the way of its predecessor and fail to survive the coming winter.
If 'Diana' doesn't live through this winter, I won't put the "third time's a charm" rule to the test. I'll just remember the beauty of having had her with us for a short time and always wish it could have been longer, just like her namesake.
Photo of Diana from AllPosters.com
To note: Jackson & Perkins has sold more than 475,000 'Diana, Princess of Wales' hybrid tea roses since its introduction and 10% of the sales go to Lady Diana's charitable programs.