Bred in 1831, Gene is currently the oldest rose in my collection. Despite this age, it retains surprising vigor. Roses are propagated by cutting or budding — so when we say we have a clone of a particular variety, it’s not a clone in the same sense as Dolly the Sheep, in which a newborn was created from the genetic material of an older individual. Its a clone in the sense that the plant I have in a small red pot on the deck really is a piece of a piece of the same organism that emerged from a seed 186 years ago… and it’s still growing.
I first read about this rose on the website of Paul Barden, a breeder located on the West Coast who raved about it and its almost candy-like scent. I don’t quite find it like candy, but it is “old rose” in the best sense — as in a clean, but sharp, soapy scent with a cherry undertone — not in the powdery sense in which it’s likely to evoke Rose Nylund.
- Spunky, surprisingly good repeater
- Rich color and unusually strong scent (soap, with a bit of cherry!)
- Compact and well behaved in a pot
- Appears very winter hardy, even in a small pot
- A bit rust prone, needs some anti-fungal protection