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Coming Up Roses: Shakespeare rose proves lush and romantic

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Julia Isaac/Special to the Town Crier
William Shakespeare 2000 is a crimson English shrub rose.

William Shakespeare 2000 is a beautiful, crimson English shrub rose. Bred in 2000 by famous English hybridizer David Austin, it was named in honor of England’s greatest playwright. Until 2004, the rose was available only in limited numbers but has since become available for widespread purchase.

William Shakespeare 2000 is a sprawling, vigorous, medium-sized, upright shrub with broad growth. Each stem bears a number of flowers. It has dark bluish-green, healthy foliage. In my garden, it remains fairly short (less than 3 feet) in height and holds a spreading stature. It repeatedly blooms throughout the summer with an especially heavy flush in late spring and late fall.

This rose produces blooms that average about 3.5 inches in diameter; in other words, it’s a big rose. Its size adds to its beauty, because its layers are so distinct. From the outside in, you can note the contrast between the rose’s deep-red outer petals, with dark shadows between the petals, and the bright cherry-red at the center.

Each bloom carries an estimated 120 beautiful velvety petals. The color ranges from immensely rich, crimson red in the spring to deep purple in the summer and fall. The blooming shade is so complex that my camera seems never good enough to catch the flower’s real excellence. The blooms are deeply cupped at first, and then open to a flatter, shallow quartered cup as they mature.

It seems that this rose enjoys our warm Bay Area weather. I personally planted it in a fully sunny spot, and it grows very well – no spray is needed due to its excellent disease resistance.

William Shakespeare 2000 is a strong rose that grows fast. Just make sure that you remove spent blooms to encourage reblooming. When you prune, simply cut back the remaining canes by approximately one-third for best growth.

William Shakespeare 2000 was named the Most Fragrant Rose at the 2011 Hamilton trials in New Zealand, and for good reason: Its potent, delicious Old Rose fragrance is hard to miss. Moreover, the flower and its scent are particularly long-lasting, and thus it makes a good cut for a mass display.

Because extreme heat could be damaging to the petals, in the scorching summer I like to pick the individual roses when they start to open, then with them compose a pretty bouquet. The flower is lush and romantic, making it one of my favorites. It is a great choice for just about any garden, including yours.

Michelle Isaac is a gardener in Los Altos. For more information, email [email protected] Julia Isaac contributed to this column.

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