Lady Banks Rose (Banksia Lutea)
Rose Purchasing – Bands Part 2

Rose of the Week – Moss Rose



One day
while out gardening, our neighbor, Tony La Rosa, brought over a handful of scrawny, naked canes. He said, “Since you grow roses, I thought you might like to have this rose. It’s been blooming in my mother’s garden for many years.” He went on to say, “An employee, in our family’s grocery, brought cuttings back from Italy in a potato.”

Tony didn’t know the rose’s name, and gave me no description. It didn’t look like much, but I was delighted to have a newcomer, and planted it on the spot.




Come spring, the leaves that emerged were not the generic variety. No, they were oval, serrated and veined in burgundy red–very intriguing. When buds appeared perched on thin stems, I was taken aback. Moss encased each bud and when touched, it left my fingers a little sticky, smelling of lemon and pine.



I waited impatiently
for the mossy cloaks to open. Finally, a pink petal peeked through. Excitement. Soon silky petals unfurled and gathered around a tiny tuft of cream stamens. Beautiful and exquisitely fragrant, our garden had a new treasure.



Years later, while working on my book R is for Rose, I found out the rose had two names, ‘Common Moss’ and ‘Communis’. A sport of ‘Rosa Centifolia’, the rose was first discovered in Carcassonne, France in the seventeenth century.

This rose roots by division, however it is not invasive. The roots stay put and go deep into the ground.  Rooted canes are easy to dislodge, for passing on to friends, or for selling at a rose event. The canes become long and wiry, so mid- summer, I cut them back. In January I usually cut them to the ground.



'Common Moss' does very well in pots.
The two shown in the picture here have been in those pots for twenty years. If they mildew, I’ll cut them back once or twice in a season. New leaves generate quickly. Since the rose blooms once, it receives one dose of fertilizer as new leaves emerge in spring.


Moss-rose-decanter Narrow stems allow a good number to crowd into the neck on this crystal decanter.

I forgot to mention how fragrant the blooms are. They have the quintiscential "old rose" fragrance.

'Common Moss' appeared on the cover of my 2009 calendar.