You are here
The Lady Banks Rose
The first rose to bloom in my garden, the Lady Banks Rose, shouldn't even be in my garden. Officially called Rosa banksiae lutea, the plant shouldn't have survived the first winter here in southeastern Pennsylvania. Good thing I didn't tell it, as it is now glorious in its fourth spring.
In our cool spring of 2013, Lady Banks started blooming around May 10; in last year's warm spring it was in full bloom at the end of April. Regardless of the weather, it beats all the other roses in my garden by a full two weeks. A few days ago a cold rain combined with high winds put an early end to the flowers, which only appear once a year. Lady Banks is native to central and western China. It was brought to the West by a plant collecting party sent to China by the eminent botanist Sir Joseph Banks, and named after his wife. There are a few different forms, ranging from a five-petaled white flower to a many-petaled yellow flower. The yellow form (lutea) is far the most impressive from an ornamental standpoint. Although it loses its leaves in my garden, in warmer climates it is evergreen. In addition to its vigor and substantial size--mine is over 15' and I expect it to top out at 25'--it is nearly thornless and has a curious light fragrance. If the USDA Zone Map locates you in Zone 6b or warmer, you should invite The Good Lady into your garden. You'll find her full of grace and charm.