Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’ AGM

Louse Sims

I have often thought that if I was only allowed a single rose on my desert island, this is the one that I would choose above all others: its ethereal beauty simply cannot be matched.

This slender China rose blends seamlessly with perennials in a mixed border, it is perfectly hardy but probably gives of its best in a sheltered and sunny spot where it will easily attain five or six feet. It has very few thorns, and almost never falls prey to pests or diseases. 

‘Mutabilis’ refers to the colours of the flowers which are changeable; they run from sandy yellow, through peachy, pink and orange, finally ageing to deep crimson. This could sound like a dog’s dinner which it most certainly is not, for the delicacy of the shrub must be seen to be understood; the single flowers appear to hover like butterflies over the mahogany red stems, and no photograph can quite capture the essence of this subtle rose.

I have learned over the years, to leave pruning until quite late in the season, in order to avoid late frosts. I used to prune rather tentatively but now am much bolder and take off at least a third of the height, ruthlessly clearing away old, weak, and awkward stems. After the first flush of flowers, you must prune it again with care, and you will be well rewarded.

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 inc P & P and is for sale in our online shop here.

More NB If you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

7 replies on “Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’ AGM”

Hello Growbags
I have a glut of aquilegias which I hope to chop back before they seed( also mounds of goose grass)- presumably neither will be good for compost as they’ll ripen in there? What do you do? All help welcome!
So enjoy my Sat blog!

Hello Caroline
As long as your aquilegias don’t have any kind of persistent disease (which we have here sadly) then it’s absolutely fine to put the lot on your compost heap. I also put goose grass, stinging nettles on it although there is a certain amount of ‘partner discussion’ about this! The only things I don’t include are those horrors with white roots – bindweed, ground elder etc
The heat of the heap should kill off the unwanted seeds
Happy gardening!

I stick it all in a bucket of water for a couple of weeks. That kills most things. Then just tip it all on the compost heap.

That’s an excellent idea, Elaine. I know it really works, and you get the comfort of knowing that you are not risking putting nasties back in your soil when you come to use your compost. Thank you for writing in. All the best, Elaine (we Elaines need to stick together!)

Love the little article about Rosa x mutablis. I will definitely be bolder when pruning my two shrubs in the future, especially since they are getting to a sizable size. Up til now I’ve just got rid of dead twiggy bits in early spring.

This rose is probably tougher than we think so give it a go! As you have two you could always start on one of them. You don’t say where you live so obviously if your garden is at all exposed you should tread a little more carefully.
Good luck with the future pruning Rosemary!

Delighted that Louise has chosen my favourite rose too!
It has flowered once and is throwing up new red shoots, so I’m thinking of cutting out old twiggy growth and Boeing a little braver this time. It has been happy in a large tub for several years, and perhaps this autumn I need to prune, repot and talk to it nicely, although the plant must be at least ten years old. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you!

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