I’ve hesitated to share this picture of a rose, even though it’s one of my favourites. The colour, though attractive, is not typical, which is why I’ve not provided the variety name on the picture file. It may seem like a harsh assessment of a flower, but this one is too apricot. This variety is supposed to be pink, though admittedly with a good hint of apricot. This one is apricot with the merest touch of pink.
I would hope most people are at this point thinking – ‘Why on earth would anyone prevaricate about whether a rose is pink, apricot or somewhere in the middle? It’s a very nice looking rose. I’d be happy to have it in my garden. Just let it be’. Quite. But for many gardeners (and brides), the shade does matter. They want a white rose to be white, not cream, and a red rose to be red, not pink. Simples, as the meerkats would say.
The rose picture always reminds me of an exchange that was on the surreal side, but not untypical of my working life at the time. During Press Day at the Chelsea Flower Show, I was helping visitors who wanted information about the roses – mainly press or celebrities. One lady asked where she could find Rosa ‘Queen of Sweden’. I took her over to the rose. I knew it well – it has a very distinct habit and flower shape – and it was also neatly labelled with the variety name. I confess to feeling a faint flush of happiness because I’d been able to help so easily.
Non-too-pleased, she advised me that it was not her rose – it couldn’t be. It was pink and hers was more apricot.
I explained that forcing a rose to flower earlier than normal may have a strange effect on the colour of the flowers and may make the plant more leggy. As I was speaking, I was thinking, ‘Is this the Queen of Sweden, then?… Probably not, though this is Press Day at Chelsea – anything can happen… Which Queen of Sweden was it named for, I wonder?’.
I’ll never know. What I do know is that the Rosa ‘Queen of Sweden’ pictured above is as apricot as anyone could hope for. Even apricotter, if you’ll forgive the liberty.
I’ll leave you with a Rosa ‘Queen of Sweden’ looking more like herself: