Romantic bouquet: Appreciating the beauty of the Geoff Hamilton rose

Julia Isaac/Special to the Town Crier
Michelle Isaac’s garden boasts one of her favorite pink roses, the Geoff Hamilton.

Roses come in various colors. I love pink roses. Lucky for me, there are many pink roses to choose from, including dozens of pink rose plants in the United States, in a wide variety of shades.

The Geoff Hamilton rose is among my favorite pink roses. It is particularly interesting because of its balance of pros and cons.

It is without doubt beautiful; however, it is susceptible to problem conditions in the Bay Area environment, which can make it a challenge for most people to grow. In fact, I was hesitating to write about this rose, but felt I should at least share how lovely it is. After reading this column, you can decide if you want to take the challenge.

Renowned breeder David Austin introduced the first Geoff Hamilton rose in 1997, named in memory of his old friend, a famous British gardener, broadcaster and author, best known as the presenter of BBC Television’s "Gardeners’ World" in the 1980s and 90s.

The flower has 110 pink petals that are deeply cupped and delicate in appearance. It’s 3 1/2 inches in diameter, perfect for any rose bouquet, creating a romantic and feminine ambience around the home. It is especially pretty in a vase, when a few of the soft pink petals fade to white and fall on the table.

The Geoff Hamilton rose is (eventually) a strong-growing, repeat-blooming, medium-tall shrub rose, spanning a 4-foot-by-3-foot area. It is best known for having nicely formed petals, shaped in layers upon layers. The flowers are warm and cup-shaped.

This old-fashioned globular bloom forms with a nice, light scent. It makes a lovely cut flower, but it doesn’t shatter so quickly. The Geoff Hamilton looks a lot like one of David Austin’s florist roses, so you can use it for a garden wedding.

Indeed, Geoff Hamilton is a beautiful rose; however, some rose growers suggest it is difficult to take care of. Black spots may be a problem, and the plant is not shade-tolerant. The pink flowers easily rust and mold once wet from the rain.

For the rose to look its best, I recommend planting it in full sun. Every spring, the rose emerges very healthy and has its first flush in May. After the big show, the flower rests amid some black spots on its leaves. In July, you will see its wholesome new branches emerge from otherwise less appealing ones.

It is well worth the wait. The medium-green leaves are nice and glossy; it looks as if each cane takes its turn blooming. I cut the unhealthy leaves out, so in August the cute pink flowers bloom again in clusters.

Although there are many pink roses out there, and more disease-resistant ones, the Geoff Hamilton rose’s unique beauty definitely wins in my heart.

Michelle Isaac is a gardener in Los Altos. For more information, email [email protected]

Julia Isaac contributed to this column. d

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