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Award of Merit Article

Priscilla Burton

by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian

What do George Burns, Picasso, and Playboy have in common? Well, I don’t know whether the two famous individuals fell into the playboy category, but the connection for rose lovers is that they are all beautiful, multi-colored roses. What do I mean by multi-colored? In this context, these are roses that have two or more distinct colors on a single bloom. Some may be a picotee type, with the edges of the petals a different color from the remainder of the bloom, like Nicole, or Paradise. There are the classic blends of colors – yellows and oranges like Peace and Playboy. There are striped roses, that are just that – stripes of one color and the remaining petals another. Honorine de Brabant and Hurdy Gurdy are good examples of striped roses. And a relatively new group of multi-colored roses are the “hand painted” types – where each rose is unique and one color appears to have been painted on the background color. All of these multi-colored roses present unique combinations of color, and can often change depending on the age of the bloom, or the exposure to sun.

You may think that multi-colored roses are just a current fashion in roses – but in fact, one of the most popular striped roses is Rosa gallica versicolor, more commonly known as Rosa mundi. This peppermint pink striped rose dates back to 1581 and was originally called “Rosamonde” after the mistress of Henry II, who ruled England from 1154 – 1189. It is actually a sport of the Apothecary rose. Mutabilis is another old rose, and a very interesting one that not only has multi-colored petals, but the five-petaled bloom changes color completely as it ages, and the entire plant looks like a mixture of colored butterflies.

Now fashion does have something to do with it. Modern hybridizers are always trying to develop new and different roses. Three of them have made a significant contribution in creating multi-colored roses in the past thirty years. Ralph Moore, creator of more miniature roses than anyone, has introduced wonderful color combinations like Magic Carousel, Over the Rainbow, and Hoot Owl. The king of the “hand-painted” rose is Sam McGready IV of New Zealand, with the uniquely colored roses Pricilla Burton, Picasso, Stretch Johnson and Roller Coaster.

Stretch Johnson
And more recently, Tom Carruth of Weeks roses has added to the multi-colored class with striped gems like AARS winners Fourth of July and Scentimental, along with George Burn and Berries & Cream.

All of these roses are categorized by the American Rose Society as “blends”. If you are looking for something different for your garden, add a couple of these multi-colored winners!

Name Type Color ARS Rating Year Introduced
R. gallica versicolor Species Red Blend 9.0 before 1581
Nicole Floribund White 8.9 1985
Mutabilis Hybrid China Yellow Blend 8.9 before 1894
Rainbow's End Miniature Yellow Blend 8.8 1984
Hannah Gordon Floribunda Pink Blend 8.6 1983
Magic Carrousel Miniature Red Blend 8.5 1972
Baronne Edmonde de Rothschild Hybrid Tea Red Blend 8.4 1974
Double Delight Hybrid Tea Red Blend 8.4 1977
Erfurt Hybrid Musk Pink Blend 8.5 1939
Fruhlingsmorgen Hybrid Spinosissima Pink Blend 8.4 1942
Little Artist Miniature Red Blend 8.5 1982
Cocktail Shrub Red Blend 8.4 1961
Playboy Floribunda Red Blend 8.4 1976
First Prize Hybrid Tea Pink Blend 8.3 1970
Honorine de Brabant Bourbon Pink Blend 8.3 no date
Priscilla Burton Floribunda Red Blend 8.3 1978
Peace Hybrid Tea Yellow Blend 8.2 1945
Roller Coaster Miniature Red Blend 8.2 1987
Sheila's Perfume Floribunda Yellow Blend 8.2 1982
Hot Tamale Miniature Yellow Blend 8.2 1993
Fourth of July Large-Flowered Climber Red Blend 8.1 1999
Gemini Hybrid Tea Pink Blend 8.2 2000
Hurdy Gurdy Miniature Red Blend 8.1 1986
Joyfulness Hybrid Tea Apricot Blend 8.1 1984
Westerland Shrub Apricot Blend 8.1 1969
Color Magic Hybrid Tea Pink Blend 8.0 1978
Betty Boop Floribunda Red Blend 8.0 1999
Handel Large-Flowered Climber Red Blend 7.9 1965
Variegata di Bologna Bourbon Red Blend 8.0 1909

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Last Modified: 08/06/2013