The Grand Lady Banks’ Rose
With all of the many flowers bursting at their seams with life and color this time of year, you’ll find more of my posts detailing out some of my favorites. Today’s spotlight flower is the Lady Banks’ Rose.
I actually have very few roses in our outdoor spaces. Not because I don’t like them, because I do – there are few flowers that are as varied and as colorful and as fragrant as roses…all great things. Now they do take a bit more care and know-how than I’m willing to muster…but I don’t have many roses mainly because I don’t have the spaces and environment to grow them well. Being in a fairly wooded lot, I only have a few spaces where they would thrive…and I tend to plant other sun-loving plants and flowers there. However, I do have the perfect spot for the grand Lady Banks’ (Rosa banksiae).
Britt and I love having friends over…and being more informal in our entertaining style, we prefer that our guests come to our back door. Unfortunately, to get there you have to enter from our driveway…where cars are often parked …not very attractive – coming or going. So not only did we want to hide the views of our driveway (i.e., cars and concrete) from our backdoor and upper lawn space, we also wanted to create an entrance that was more intentional and more welcoming. With plenty of sunlight…and once I created a very simple arbor, it was a perfect place for Lady Banks’ to spread her wings…and spread her wings she did.
Not that we needed two, but because I tend to over-plant and prefer not having to wait for symmetry, I planted a Lady Banks’ on both sides of the simple arbor that Brown-Brown and I constructed at the gate to our back yard. As you can see, they really like their home.
Lady Banks’ is a shrub-like vine that grows very vigorously up and over whatever structure she’s near. So be prepared to give her room to grow and to tame her…a lot. We often refer to ours as Medusa. Britt would probably prefer that I tame her some more, but as long as we can make it through the gate, I’m good with letting her wander. That said, I’m probably going to have to transplant some of the plants around our Lady to give her more space…or cut her back.
Fortunately, like all other roses, Lady Banks’ are very tolerant to pruning – which you’d want to do after their spring flowering season. But before I go to such drastic measures, I’ll continue to train her long arches into herself and around and through the arbor and nearby picket fence. Note, since the Lady Banks’ is not a true vine (i.e., it doesn’t twine, cling or clasp), you effectively have to do this type of training when the new shoots are strong enough to withstand a bit of man-handling, but not too strong so that they break.
The other really great thing about the Lady Banks’ is that she doesn’t have thorns…or really none to speak of. So whereas you wouldn’t put other beautiful climbing roses (e.g., New Dawn) near the entrance of anything – fearing that you’d gash your guests…the thornless Lady Banks’ is a perfect choice. And by the way, not only does she not have thorns, the Lady Banks’ also doesn’t have a fragrance. So if you’re looking for that…keep looking.
Our Lady Banks’ has clusters of yellow flowers that drape up and down her long arches. There is also a variety that has white flowers (and as you know, I prefer white flowers); but I have read some instances where the white variety may have some thorns. So we played it safe and chose the yellow variety.
I’ll leave you with one fun fact about the Lady Banks’. According to Guinness, the largest known single rosebush is a Lady Banks’…found in Tombstone, Arizona. She’s almost 130 years old and covers over 8,000 square feet of the roof of an old inn. And her trunk…yes, it’s a trunk…is over 12 feet in circumference. So as I said, you need to give her room to grow!
So there’s a bit of information on my favorite rose. What’s yours? Or…what have you planted to provide a grander, more welcoming entrance for your guests? I’d love to know…and to share it with our other fellow Ground Redeemers.
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