Eric’s Pet Plants: Dublin Bay Rose (Rosa x ‘Dublin Bay’)
One problem with going on vacation is that you’re not there to photograph your favorite rose when it’s at its peak, but that hasn’t stopped our friend Eric from resuming his series on pet plants with a shout-out to Dublin Bay, a real landscape workhorse: long blooming, trouble free and (unlike most low-maintenance roses) delightfully fragrant.
Dublin Bay Rose (Rosa x ‘Dublin Bay’)
By Eric Larson
I have had more questions about this plant than a zookeeper during elephant mating season. It is sited perfectly to provide an entrance ‘wow’ as you come off the street on Mansfield, admittedly not our best first impression.
If you can look past the dump area that grounds maintenance uses for organic waste, a thirty yard dumpster, a five yard dumpster, another container for storage of tools, the sand and salt mixing area with metal and canvas canopy, you will raise your eyes to the completely charming and very assuming Dublin Bay Rose.
This wonderful rose blooms for more than six weeks, which is very unusual for a climbing rose. I don’t spray it; I don’t prune it; I don’t pamper it – I hardly even tie it to the fence (although I will this week, I promise). It rewards my benign neglect with nothing short of extraordinary blooms of the deepest red.
Did I say that is also fragrant? When you cut a bouquet of these roses, you won’t be sneaking up on anybody. They extend their presence into the room like a queen sending her entourage ahead of her. The darkly scented aroma is a favorite in our household, because it takes a queen to know one. That queen being my lovely wife, of course. Photos of Dublin Bay won’t do it justice until they get a ‘scratch-and-sniff’ option on the computer.
Dublin Bay, like all roses, prefers full sun, well-drained soil and good fertility. Like most climbing roses, it will grow pretty rampantly up and to the side. Unlike many roses of any kind, it seems to enjoy a life unfettered by the debilitating effects of fungal and bacterial problems. As I mentioned earlier, if there is a truly carefree rose, it is Dublin Bay.
The rose is a member of the eponymous Rose family, Rosaceae, which includes a wide array of plants from apples, cherries and similar fruits to raspberries and other brambles, from hawthorns to the lovely little potentilla. There are about a hundred genera within its ranks, and almost three thousand species.
Most species in the genus Rosa are native to Asia, with a few from Europe, an even smaller number from North America and a very few from northwest Africa. Then there are numerous cultivars and hybrids of rose adding to the genetic pool, creating a botanical nomenclaturist’s nightmare – or job security, depending on your viewpoint.
For instance, if you google Dublin Bay Rose, you’ll get alternate names, including ‘Improved Blaze’ and ‘Don Juan.’ I prefer ‘Dublin Bay’ for some reason, don’t ask me why.
The naming of plants, especially specific cultivars, is complicated. If you “discover” a sport or a variant genotype of a plant, you can name it. But that same sport may have already been discovered and named by someone else, setting up a potential Jerry Springer-type conflict.
Speaking of naming rights, James Thurber wrote a wonderful piece about a woman whose husband studied insects. She complained that his colleague, a botanist, named wonderful flowering plants after HIS wife, while her name gets immortalized on some creepy crawly thing. Ah the foibles of our species.
Dublin Bay takes the summer off, but blooms again in autumn. The flushes of bloom in June and September, common to many roses, seem to be a phenological indicator of Homo Sapiens’ need to ritualize our relationships. Nice to have roses for the wedding.
I have ours planted next to a ‘Paul Thirion’ lilac. This year they ended up blooming at the same time, which is unusual (although it was at the end of the lilac season). The deep purple-to-red buds on the Lilac opened to light purplish-pink double flowers, with the climbing rose blooming its accustomed deep red. Some color wheels might start spinning uncontrollably, but I thought it was stunning. If I do say so myself.
Disclaimer: The opinions and thoughts expressed within these columns are not those of Yale University, Marsh Botanical Gardens, or Leslie Land. They are personal reflections on life, plants, humankind and the daily miracles that come my way.