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,
dark green foliage, covered in clusters of lightly fragrant ivory
blossoms that are tinged with cream. Best of all, the plant blooms
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
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.
One of my
favorite roses in Melanie's front garden is 'Gourmet Popcorn,' a
of 'Popcorn', shown in the lead photo above. This is a miniature
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
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.
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.
Joan Katherine Shaw
- Joan Katherine Shaw
Some on-line sources for
Jackson and Perkins
Roses of Yesterday and Today
Vintage Gardens (a source of
than 3,000 different varieties of roses)
Gardens, South Carolina
White Flower Farm
More on roses:
of Single Roses
A Miniature Rose Garden
Climbing Roses for the North
of the Middle East
The Charm of Single Roses
Back to: Dreaming of Roses
Return to the garden
Click for excerpt of Joan Shaw's The Uncle and
Rose Society site
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All contents copyright (c) 2000-2009 by Joan K. Shaw.