Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wingthorn Rose is Something Special

I've been talking about roses lately - here and here - and last year I was introduced to a very special sort of rose when I attended the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Seattle. I'd never seen or even heard of the wingthorn rose before, but its appearance really got my attention.

It wasn't the blooms, in fact, it wasn't even blooming when I saw it. It wasn't the foliage, although it's rather beautiful, being almost fern-like. No, what I loved about it is the very thing my husband hates about roses - those thorns.

But these aren't just any thorns. When a rose goes by the common name of "wingthorn" you just know that there's got to be something special about its thorns.

When the sun backlights the red thorns of the wingthorn rose, it's just magical.
Rosa sericea var. ptericantha has more thorns than most roses, in fact, the stems can be downright hairy with them. And they're red. How cool is that? Red is my favorite color and these thorns are the most luscious shade of it. But it's only the newer canes that have the red thorns. Once they're there for a year or so, they turn brown, but there's no shortage of new canes if you keep it pruned, so you can enjoy those crimson thorns all season long.

The wingthorn is a species rose native to China that was introduced into the U.S. in 1890. It's hardy to Zone 6, and since I'm in Zone 5b, even with the new zoning map, I wondered if it would survive our winter. I wrapped it with a Plumstone ShrubJacket last fall to help it make it through. It turned out that we had a warmer than usual winter so the rose may have survived without the jacket anyway, but it certainly didn't hurt it to have the extra protection.

April 20, 2012

I got to see it bloom this spring, the only time it does so. The tiny white blooms are unremarkable, consisting of only four petals and total size of about one inch in diameter, but it thrilled me with those gorgeous red thorns that made me buy it in the first place.

Even with our droughtish spring, the wingthorn is thriving with only my occasional supplemental watering.


trailrider731 said...

hay hay , I just found your blog and hope to explore to my hearts content soon. i've always loved the outdoors, and now that i no longer have horse to tend, I spend a lot of time in the yard. I even have my first 5 chickens coming along nicely contained for now at 13 weeks old. Blessings from the South. LM The best is yet to come!!!

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