Cecile Brunner, the Sweetheart Rose

 

Cecile Brunner must be the most popular climbing rose in California. She's readily available at nurseries, and in the Bay Area where I live, glorious mounds fill freeway beds, and long canes grace pergolas in city parks. In neighborhoods you may find her neat and tidy on an arch in the garden, or wantonly devouring garages and sheds.

 

Cecile Brunner Pergola_5

Cecile Brunner is fragrant, flexible, powerful, and ever-changing. The effulgence of a generous heart seems an apt description. Year after year, in my garden, she was a showstopper reflecting the nuances of that year's pruning and the always evolving shade pattern from a huge silver maple overhead. This image is from 2005.

 

Cecile brunner rose harvest

Cecile became a favorite photographic muse and treasured garden focal point.

 

Carolyn Parker holding a Cecile Brunner rose

The story begins in 1990 and this gardener's dreams of a gorgeous arch blooming with tiny pink charmers, or as they are fondly known–sweethearts. Two plants purchased in 3-inch band pots took only one year to meet at the top. 

 

Cecile Brunner Rose

Two years later, the rose appeared mature and resplendent in my first book, The Poetry of Roses. In 1995, the metal arch buckled and had to be propped up by two-by-fours! Four years later, a sturdy pergola, worthy of our Cecile, finally offered years of wonder and joy.

My photo archives are brimming with each year's progress–here are three: the first is from 2014, then comes 2017, and finally 2018. 

 

Cecile Brunner Arch 14

Cecile Brunner Arbor 17

Cecile Brunner on an Arbor

 

Below, as always, I love to show you glam shots of the blooming beauties. In the first image, a harvest of panicles (a group or cluster of flowers on a stem) in tied posies. The bouquets in the next two shots were created at Cecile's peak moments that particular spring. An Indian silk chiffon shawl inspired a lie-in for the last shot. Roses love to pose.

 

Cecile Brunner Bouquets

 

Cecile Brunner in small brass vase

 

Cecile Brunner in porcelain vase

 

Cecile Brunner on silk chiffon shawl

 

Growth Habit and Care

Cecile has sharp thorns and is extremely vigorous. Unless you have unlimited space where the twenty foot climber can grow wild, or you have an old building you want to camouflage, this rose requires no-nonsense pruning by a strong person wearing sturdy leather gloves, who can work on a ladder and make cut after cut with arms raised.

How to prune Cecile Brunner roses

Our sturdy pergola was built in 2001. Shown here a few years later, Cecile is  looking tidy after a big pruning. However, as you can see from the shots above she eventually got away from our control as the top growth got higher and higher.

I love to change pruning styles from year to year. Some years, I let the canes droop down in big swags, and other years they would be cut as short as possible for a more compact look.

 

Cecile Brunner Shrub

The original shrub grew no taller than five feet and was named Mlle Cécile Brunner.  It was hybridized in 1881 at the Ducher nursery in France, and named after the daughter of a Swiss nurseryman. When the shrub found its way to California, one of the canes grew out eight feet, was cloned and became the climbing variety, which is formally named Climbing Cecile Brunner. If you go to helpmefind.com, you'll find many more varieties.

Above, the shrub form is shown in my former garden. In 1976 she was lifted from her garden bed of many years and moved to two more homes, moved again in this garden three more times, and now crowded by salvia and receiving little water, is still blooming and giving love through her depth of beauty 48 years later. Says something about longevity doesn't it.

Both the climber and the shrub are disease-resistant, and  shade tolerant from zone 5 to zone 10. I've never seen blackspot or mildew on them and as-a-matter-of-fact, nasty insects stay away as well–a charmed life!

 

Cecile Brunner in big vase

Welcome to many new subscribers!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please don't be shy–introduce yourselves, I'd love to hear from you. If you grow Cecile Brunner let us know your experience and where you live.

 


Carolyn Parker on Rose Chat Podcast

 

Hi Rosenotes Friends,

I'm on the air talking with Teresa Byington on Rose Chat Podcast!

Carolyn Parker RoseChatPodcast

We hope you'll tune in. I had so much fun talking about the garden I had to leave, how it came to be, and the new rose garden I'm about to create.

Since memories of my previous garden bring so much joy, beauty and treasured moments, it seemed natural to showcase it in a special calendar for 2021. 

 

Rosenotes Garden Calendar 2021

 

Stop by my shop for a year of fabulous roses. Beautiful as a gift for you and dear friends.

 

 


Saying Goodbye to My Rose Garden

 

I'd been saying goodbye to my rose garden for four years, and finally this past September, I dug up seventeen roses, a few perennials, a couple of shrubs and moved. Now in my new home, it seems I owe my well-loved garden a proper goodbye here on the blog. 

 

Carolyn Parker Under Rose Arch in Her Garden

I've gone through every emotion leaving a garden of so many roses, but I'm also excited to show you how the roses became a signature and main focus for thirty-six years.

 

Rose_Garden_in_Front

The garden is in Lafayette, CA, in the San Francisco Bay Area, on a flat, one-third acre with pretty good soil and lots of sun. Here it is on May 5, 2020 just past peak rose bloom. Eight-foot wide beds are bordered by a lattice deer fence of climbing roses. In front of the fence, roses are grouped by color and underplanted with matching perennials. The house is surrounded by an equally wide bed of pink roses. Originally a giant Cedar, which eventually had to be removed, grew where the white roses are now, and along the perimeter of the property tired junipers overwhelmed a two-foot split rail fence.

 

Front garden 2013

A similar angle taken in 2013 before the fencing filled in with roses.

 

Front garden facing peach roses

Another front garden view, this time facing the peach and yellow roses–that's Crepuscule in bloom, climbing the fence. Pink Gruss an Aachen, one of my favorites, is in the lower right corner. Love it when the grass is a little too long!

 

Just Joey Roses

Color grouping roses with matching underplantings, has been a thrill for this plant addict, because there are so many possibilities. Geum planted near Just Joey roses is a prolific bloomer and a great cut flower.

 

Carolyn Parker holding yellow roses

I took the pictures of me in this post with a remote clicker during the pandemic shut-down, and this shot reminds me of how crystal clear the skies were then.

 

Lamarque in Carolyn Parker garden

I'm including this shot because I love the memories and details. We are still in the front garden and I'm not even embarrassed to show the weeds (the pandemic's fault), and that all too frequent rootstock intruder–the red rose, Dr. Huey (it looks so pretty). I'm sitting on damp grass shooting with my iPhone. I'm nostalgic for three of the heritage roses here: Lamarque in the background on the fence; Madame Hardy budded to Dr. Huey, and Paquerette, the first polyantha in the lower right corner. 

 

Lamarque rose on lattice fence

Here is Lamarque from the other side of the fence, with Iceberg on the arbor, both are showstoppers four times a year. Along the entrance path, bordered by erigeron, is white bearded iris and California native iris. Abutilon, watsonia, phlox, dinner plate hibiscus, calamintha, molinia cerulea, guara, geranium biokovo, are some of the many white underplantings in and around this area. Now let's go see what's on the fence, along the sidewalk.

 

Rose border outside fencing

For years, I battled deer with one thing after another. When home remedies no longer worked, a lattice fence finally did the job better than I ever imagined. Yes, no more deer munched the Hybrid Teas, but a wonderful sense of privacy and fantastic opportunities opened up for climbing roses, and many new companion plantings. I especially love the boldness and textural contrast of New Zealand flax, and the African native melianthus major. Mexican feather grass pops over from the school across the street, and sews itself liberally all along this border.

 

Perle d'Or in Carolyn Parker's garden

Here are two shrubs of Perle d'Or, another favorite rose, with a guava and a persimmon tree in the background. Of course, I couldn't resist planting more roses outside the fence, and I do sometimes cover these with deer netting, but for the most part the roses up against the fence are not munched, and small flowered roses are often just left alone.

 

Shrub roses in Carolyn Parker's GardenUntitled-1

I must say, it's a proud moment when the bloom looks like this. I love it when large shrub roses and climbers come into their own. From the left, Albertine, Jeanne Lajoie, Peggy Martin, Kathleen and her-yet-to-be-named sport. 

 

Phyllis Bide Rose

I've shown you most everything but the back garden. A gigantic silver maple spreads its shady canopy over most of this area, and it's hard to believe how much bigger it is now than when I first gardened here. There are almost no roses in the back, but I'm fond of this shot of Phyllis Bide sheltering a bench taken many years ago. I'm hoping to use more blue flowered plants in my new garden.


Climbing rose arch

For all the years that I have lived here, I gardened for myself in honor of creation, and in the mix, neighbors just loved it, and children, from preschool to the fifth grade, at the school across the street, have had what I hope are unforgettable childhood memories of beauty. I documented much of the garden's progress here on the blog, which I hope you enjoy exploring.

In retrospect, I always felt like I had unlimited space for roses; so I fearlessly grew the largest shrubs and climbers, never thinking one more rose was too many. However, my attitude resulted in very high maintenance, which is indeed a luxury in today's world. On the other hand, I learned how rewarding large scale, mostly Heritage roses are to even the smallest garden, and when planted with intention, they are valuable garden shrubs that for the most part bloom much more extensively than the most popular spring-blooming shrubs. 

So now in my new garden space, which is probably one-fifth the size of my old garden, I have to forgo roses like Lamarque, Albertine, and Cecile Brunner, but I do have plans for a long arbor lavished with seven climbers! I am making room for Kathleen and a few other large shrubs, and sure, there will be some Hybrid Teas and the honored David Austins. I can't wait to get started and look forward to showing you the steps along the way.

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