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Touch of Class

Touch of Class, Tournament of Roses, and Taboo
Roses of the Month For October, 2004
by Gary Scales

Fall is here and so is the arrival of colorful 2005 rose catalogs. I enjoy reading about the new roses, and reacquainting myself with old familiar friends. This year however, I was troubled I didn’t recognize as many as usual. Recently we were asked to critique currently popular roses for the American Rose Society. I must confess, we knew but a handful of the hundreds listed for review. This all produced an unsettling feeling; perhaps the rose world was passing me by; perhaps I was losing step.

I walked out into our garden in a reflective mood, conscious that as we get older we need to keep abreast of current trends. I passed by three rose bushes that reassured me there are plenty of superior roses that have been around for a while, and quite likely to remain so. Coincidentally their names all begin with ‘T,” and all are Hybrid Teas. And all were introduced over a decade ago. Old timers in the world of roses!

In our unending rush for the newest and brightest, many of us forget, the highest ARS ranking (9.0), for a Hybrid Tea goes to Touch of Class, which has been in many of our gardens since 1986 and voted the top American exhibition rose ten years in succession. This is a great rose, whether you are seeking Best in Show or just want a dependable rose to cut for the house. Its many shaded pink color, vigorous growth and large deep green leaves will ensure Touch of Class will be around for another decade.

Tournament of Roses

We have at least a half dozen Tournament of Roses in the garden and will probably add more. An All American Rose Selection in 1989, Tournament of Roses just seems to get better every passing year. While it has no scent, it repeats almost constantly and produces flowers well into the winter. Officially it is classified as a grandiflora, but in my mind it has all the characteristics of a hybrid tea.

Touch of Class

At six feet in height, I usually stand above most roses. Taboo is a delightful exception. A very vigorous grower in warm climates, Taboo’s camellia-like flowers open from black buds to a “rich Turkey red” with velvet sheen on the outer petals. Its leaves are almost red at first, then turning a glossy green. If there were ever an inspiration for the song’ Last Rose of Summer” surely it would have been Taboo. We always are assured a bouquet of roses for our Thanksgiving dinner table with Tournament of Roses and Taboo in our garden.

The walk in the garden convinced me that rose life in the slow lane is just fine. I will enjoy reading about the rose newcomers. And if, after five or six years, they receive the accolades heaped upon them their rookie year, I just might give them a try.

And now I must tell you a secret. Taboo is a German rose. And its real name is Barkarole. Touch of Class first was introduced in France with the name Marechal LeClerc. The marketing of roses is big business. Barkarole and LeClerc just don’t cut the mustard in the success driven publicity-marketing departments, so they spin out more user-friendly names. Ask your Marin Rose Society what roses grow well in Marin. Visit our rose garden and see what you like. Don’t be pressured by fancy photos and impressive sounding awards.

Photos by Gary Scales

Previous Roses of the Month:

September, 2004
All That Jazz

August, 2004
Peace

July, 2004
Betty Prior

June, 2004
Gertrude Jekyll

May, 2004
Sally Holmes

April, 2004
Double Delight

March, 2004
Gartendirecktor Otto Linne

February, 2004
Little Artist

January, 2004
Complicata

November, 2003
Penelope

October, 2003
Westerland

September, 2003
Elina


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