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"Charles Lawson"*, introduced by Lawson in 1853, United Kingdom
* A study name only.

"Charles Lawson" seems to be one of those unfortunate roses that has fallen out of favour in the trade of Old Garden Roses. Perhaps its because its "just another pink", or perhaps, as some have said, it performs poorly in some regions. Whatever the case may be, this is still a perfectly beautiful shrub whose garden merits are many. (Who wouldn't fall in love with a display like that?!)

I had been unaware of "Charles Lawson" until I discovered it in several instances in the Pacific Northwest. It seems that it is not at all uncommon to find discarded plants of this rose growing in complete neglect on old properties. That is where I found it first....a huge plant that had, over a period of who knows how many years, grown into a large spreading mass of canes about eight feet deep by fifteen feet wide! What a magnificent display it made in the spring, with hundreds of blooms just like the ones you see above. One criticism of "Charles Lawson" might be its tendancy to ball in wet weather. There is a very good scent to the blooms. It flowers only once, but over quite a long period. Although many of the bourbons are notoriously susceptible to Blackspot, I had not observed any disease at all on any of the plants I have seen. Perhaps this is one that is more disease resistant? As a bonus, the lithe canes are nearly thornless.

I should also mention that the identification of this rose is very tentative, as there are many of us who have this rose, and we have only taken the word of a few other rosarians about its identity. Personally, I have seen a rose grown at Heirloom Old Garden Roses display gardens with this name on it, and it certainly appears to be the same rose I now grow. However, the folks at Heirloom could not offer me any data about its provenance, so I use the name as only a study name until someone can positively ID it. I have recived a plant of this rose from five different sources, including on from Ralph Moore, who got his plant from South Africa many years ago! To date, nobody has been able to identify this cultivar.

This rose seems to be very common in the Pacific Northwest region, presumably because there is something about that climate that suits its needs particularly well. (Take note you PNW rose growers!) The photo at left was taken in the Pioneer Cemetary in Salem, Oregon, and is very typical of this rose. It has a beautiful cascading habit, arching to the ground when in full bloom. What's not to like about this rose!?

ARS merit rating: none assigned
Personal merit rating: 8.0
Hardiness: USDA zones 6 to 8, possibly zone 5 in a protected location.
Shrub size: 4 to 5 feet tall X 4 to 6 feet wide

Fragrance: 4 (out of a possible 5)

Charles Lawson Souvenir de President Lincoln
Gruss an Teplitz Souvenir de la Malmaison
Honorine de Brabant Variegata di Bologna

Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2003