I have always been fond of pink flowers – as made evident by the many pink roses in my garden. They all vary in size, shape and even number of petal layers. Unfortunately, some are delicate and cannot tolerate full sunlight, so I have to plant them in a shady area.
There is, however, one very special pink rose for all Californians that does not require such precautions: Spirit of Freedom. It is perfect for our hot weather and loves the sun. It also grows very tall and quickly. Its lilac-pink blooms are beautifully filled with myriad layers. The plant is highly floriferous and goes on blooming for weeks.
Spirit of Freedom is an English climbing rose bred by David Austin, who named the rose after The Freedom Association in the United Kingdom.
Spirit of Freedom is one of my favorite roses. It is extremely disease resistant, grows in a variety of forms and shows off repeat blooms. In the Bay Area, it can reach heights up to 8 feet. Perhaps the flower’s rapid growth is where it obtained its name.
Spirit of Freedom has a variety of typical Old Garden Rose features, bearing very full, deeply cupped lilac-pink flowers. Something extraordinary about this rose is its petal count, which can reach up to 200. If you love embellished layers, this one is for you.
The flower has a pleasing fragrance with a hint of myrrh. This plant loves sun, so it won’t be disturbed or damaged by high temperatures. As it ages, the outer petals turn lavender and the inner ones revert to a lighter pink. Spirit of Freedom is also very hardy and thus adapts to our climate well. I never spray this rose, and it still has no black spots or rust on its leaves.
Moreover, Spirit of Freedom grows vigorously and swiftly. If you do not want it to climb, you can simply prune it low, resulting in a large, rounded, bushy shrub.
A gorgeous rose, its large, pink flowers with long stems can provide astonishing beauty for your dinner-table vase. It is certainly a keeper in my garden, and will be in yours as well.
Michelle Isaac is a gardener in Los Altos. For more information, email [email protected] Julia Isaac contributed to this column.