Himalayan Alba Rose

“Bare-root” is like a box of chocolates….

You never know what you’re gonna’ get when you order plants that will be shipped bare-rooted.  You frequently won’t know what it is you have been sent until the plant blossoms.  I  received some things that I hadn’t expected three times.  Once, I ordered “Clematis Sweet Autumn” and I received Clematis Montana instead.  Another time, I ordered two “Paul’s Himalayan Musk” roses, I received one Paul’s and one Himalayan Alba.  When the alba blossomed a year later I called the nursery I ordered from to let them know that I received some other rose now growing in the garden, one with white flowers, not pink, and I wanted to know what it was.  The nursery asked me to send a photograph to them so they can show it to their botanist.  I did.  I was told it’s a Himalayan Alba. They offered to send me a replacement of Paul’s Himalayan Musk which they did.  I  like the Alba for its color and scent though and kept it where it was.

A cluster of white spicy flowers

A year later, the replacement produced white flowers.  It was another Alba.  What can I say…now I have two Himalayan Alba roses in the garden.  I still order from this nursery but never mention how the replacement came out.  I think two is enough.  I ended up propagating the Paul’s Himalayan Musk myself.

It grows like a rose on steroids.  The first one covered the trellis in no time and is still creeping all over the place.  In one season I had to cut it down three times  to keep it in order.  Last year, a family of Robins decided to nest in it.  The poor Robins.  They built the nest at the edge of the branches, still on the trellis though.  The roses grew so fast that they tipped the nest over and one egg rolled off the nest.  A few weeks later after the other two had hatched, one chick fell out and was impaled by thorns.  We found the last surviving chick on the ground a week later when the nest had been tipped sideways by the growing rose tendrils and promptly put it back in the nest.  The Robins came back and raised that one successfully.  We decided to tie the branch and pulled them back up to save the nest.  We saved a chick.  This year the Robins nested in the same place, but we had tied a wood ‘Robin nest box’ there in an attempt to help.  To our surprise, the Robins built their nest on the roof of the box, not in it.

The beauty up close

The Alba blooms only once a year.  But when it blooms the whole trellis is covered with clusters of white flowers and the sound of buzzing bees.  The spicy fragrance will linger in the air for a month.  The perfume is similar to the invasive wild rose you see all over the place, but a little bit sweeter.  I wish it would bloom all season long.  Most of them have faded now.   I just trimmed the branches again this year, for the second time, after the Robin babies left the nest.

If you love a really fast growing rose, disease resistant, with a lot of shiny green leaves, and a lot of white spicy scented flowers…it’s a perfect choice.  It’s the only rose in our garden that I don’t feed hoping to slow down the growth.  But it’s not working, they’re still growing like crazy.  I moved the replacement from the pool fence to the Tulip tree once I knew what it was.  It’s happy there as well.

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