Dusky Maiden, bred by Edward LeGrice, 1959.
Dusky Maiden is a rose I acquired for breeding purposes rather than as a garden shrub. I have yet to see it fully grown, and it is a fairly impressive shrub, so far. It sure does bloom its head off! I imagine that it has remained available on the market because it has survived the test of time, and has proven to be a worthy shrub. Time has a way of weeding out the less valuable roses and leaving us with the best of any particular time period. It seems that there are few surviving roses from the post war period, partially because (I believe) it has become habit to discard the roses we grow as soon as "new and improved" varieties come available each year. This culling process can be both an unfortunate thing, and very helpful at the same time. At any rate, (forgive me my editorial mood!) Dusky Maiden is one of the middle period Floribundas that is still with us.
This rose is the result of Edward LeGrice's breeding work. I admire his work as he sought to introduce genes from "unfashionable" roses of his time in order to re-introduce unusual genes into the breeding pool. In the background of this rose is another of his introductions, 'News', which is a cross of Tuscany Superb and a Hybrid Tea. Here is where Dusky Maiden got some of its color from. Many times Edward returned to the Gallicas for the unusual color genes, namely the purples and lavender-gray hues. More recently, David Austin has used 'Dusky Maiden' in his breeding to obtain his red line of English Roses. The first of these was Chianti, the result of a cross of 'Dusky Maiden' X 'Tuscany'. From there, he bred in old Hybrid Teas and Hybrid Perpetuals to obtain his now famous red and purple roses. It is my intention to use 'Dusky Maiden' in my search to breed a selection of repeat blooming single purple shrub roses. I will not hesitate to keep some of the once blooming roses I obtain if they are worthy shrubs of character as well. My crosses this season will start with things like 'Dusky Maiden' X 'La Belle Sutlane', and 'Dusky Maiden' X 'Alika'. I will also attempt a cross of 'Dusky Maiden' X 'Basyes Purple'.
The plant seems to be quite disease resistant, and moderately vigorous, expressing compact, well behaved growth. I dont think it is supposed to get very tall in the garden...something like 2.5 feet tall. In most of the book references it is said to be well perfumed, although I have not detected much fragrance at all. Perhaps that will change as it gets older. As you can see, the color of the bloom is rich and dark and does not fade .
Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2006