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The Gift, Little White Pet, PetiteLlizette in a cottage garden
Cottage Gardens with Roses

Joan Shaw

Roses, especially Old Garden Roses and Heirlooms, are perfectly wonderful for cottage gardens. The gardens that surround my daughter's  small house, The Granary, on DragonGoose Farm could all be classified as cottage gardens – a mix of ground cover, annuals, ornamental grasses, low-growing  perennials, and a variety of dwarf and miniature roses. She also grows polyantha roses, which are generally small, or their blossoms are small, or both. But, best of all, polyanthas bloom prolifically.

Scattered among these various roses are miniature daffodils, crocus, and species tulips in the spring, and various types of thyme (Thymus serpyllum 'Minus' and Thymus lanuginosus, Wooly Thyme), sedum species, blue bells, blue flax, small varieties of day lilies, various types of iris, and dwarf peonies. Two of these peonies deserve mention 'Fairy Princess' with red or dark pink single flowers and the fern-leafed 'Thumbelina' with single flowers, both on compact bushes that flower quite early. Surrounding and partly covering the stones laid in her garden in the front of The Granary is the dark green, matt-forming Irish Moss (Sagina subulata) that is covered with tiny white flowers in summer.

In the photo at the head of this essay can be seen in the foreground the miniature rose,  'Gourmet Popcorn'.
Her blossoms are especially fetching when partnered with the nodding bells of Campanula rotundifolia (Bluebells of Scotland), which can be seen here in the background. Also visible are the dark rose pompom-shaped, inch-wide blossoms of 'Petite Lisette (introduced by Vibert in 1817). This little rose, tradiationally placed with the centifolias, nevertheless has the matte-green, downy foliage of the dwarfish Gallicas and Damasks. It makes a dense, shapely shrub with arching branches, a delightful rose.
Miniature RoseAlisha

The twenty-inch tall 'Alisha', shown at the right, is another miniature in Melanie's, front garden. Her small, inch and a half blossoms have a most interesting little point on the ends of their petals, plainly noticeable in this photo. They look almost like a prickle.

'Alisha' is a modern rose, bred by Raymond A. Spooner and introduced in the United States in 1995 by Oregon Miniature Roses. The edges of the bright pink blossoms are white and, though they have little fragrance, their form is striking. They also rebloom here toward the end of the summer.

The color of Melanie's 'Alisha' is darker than the blossom shown in, perhaps due to its location on the cooler, east side of the house. HelpMeFind also puts the rose in zone 6 or higher, but Melanie has had no trouble with it here in zone 5.

Little White Pet
Little White PetThis dwarf polyantha, shown at left, is an heirloom rose, having been discovered by a breeder named Henderson in 1879.  It makes  a nice, rounded two-foot plant, with dark green foliage, covered in clusters of lightly fragrant ivory blossoms that are tinged with cream. Best of all, the plant blooms continuously all summer.

The English breeder of the new "English" class of roses, David Austin, admires this lovely rose, proclaiming it "one of the best small Shrub Roses for sheer garden value." He goes on to explain its origins as a dwarf sport from the old Sempervirens Rambler, 'Felicite et Perpetue'. Ramblers are once-blooming. 'Little White Pet' blooms continually. This has happened in the past, according to Austin, "on the rare occasions that we have a dwarf sport of a Rambler." One writer theorized that the energy put into the growth and enormous early summer bloom of a rambler might be the energy that is transformed into the smaller sport in the form of continuous flowering during the summer.

Mr. Austin disputes the fact that 'Little White Pet' belongs in the polyantha class, though it can be easily mistaken as belonging there. It has a softness, Austin says, "that we do not usually associate with those roses, and is much more of a shrub."

I have admired Melanie's 'Little White Pet', for many years, and planted six of them in a new rose bed on the north end of DragonGoose Farm last spring. They grew beautifully, covered themselves with blossoms during the summer and, thanks to our recently erected deer netting around the place, were not decimated by our resident deer.

Gourmet Popcorn

One of my favorite roses in Melanie's front garden is 'Gourmet Popcorn,' Seline, Gourmet Popcorn, mignonette, and othersa sport of 'Popcorn', shown in the lead photo above. This is a miniature rose,  charmingly floriferous, continuously covered during summer with small, slightly double, and lightly fragrant white blossoms. The plant is bushier and taller than 'Alisha', and spreads  to two to three feet.

On the right, in another view of Melanie's front cottage garden, can be seen the tiny-flowered Silene unifolia in the foreground. Behind Silene unifolia, with blossoms barely visible, is the pink-flowered R. pulverulenta (previously known as R. glutinosa), the 'Pine Scented Rose'. This rose has a huge production of bright orange hips in the fall which are redolent of pine from the hips' glandular hairs. In fact, the entire plant smells of pine during the season.

To the right in the photo is a massed showing of the small polyantha, 'Mignonette' with its pinkish-white rosettes in sprays of a dozen or more. David Austin says this is one of the two original Polyanthas introduced by Guillot Fils of France – one called 'Paquerette', introduced in 1875, and the other 'Mignonette', introduced in 1880.

According to David Austin, writing in his Shrub Roses and Climbing Roses, Guillot bred these two polyanthas from seed taken from the Rambler, R. multiflora, producing a new class of roses that send shoots continuously throughout the growing season from the base of the plant. The shoots produce buds after buds
which are the source of continuous bloom.

In the background, climbing the entrance columns on The Granary are the two hardy Canadian climbers, 'John Davis' (light pink) and 'William Baffin' (dark pink), described earlier in Prolific Climbing Roses for the North.

Lastly, here is a shot of one of Melanie's cats, Abby, that I happened to catch dozing at the window as I shot flower scenes below her last summer.

Revvie, dozing at the window
All the best,

Joan Katherine Shaw
February 2005

Photos - Joan Katherine Shaw

Some on-line sources for roses:
Arena Rose Company
High Country Roses
Jackson and Perkins
Roses of Yesterday and Today
Vintage Gardens (a source of more than 3,000 different varieties of roses)
Wayside Gardens, South Carolina
White Flower Farm 
More on roses:
Dreaming of Roses
The Charm of Single Roses
A Miniature Rose Garden in Utah
Cascading Roses
Old White Roses
Prolific Climbing Roses for the North
Roses of the Middle East
Some Tough but Elegant Roses
Three Favorite Roses
Dreaming of Roses

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Click for Dreaming of Roses Back to: Dreaming of Roses
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