Sunday, February 18, 2018

At Home with Westerland

truskot, westerland, shrub_rose
Westerland 1969 shrub

When Kordes introduced Westerland in 1969, this distinguished German rose hybridizer had achieved a new level of excellenze

Westerland truly has everything people are looking for in roses: exemplary beauty, ample vigor, superb disease resistance, delicious fragrance, and an intriguing apricot color blended with cream, yellow and orange depending on the climate and time of year. It also has a long vase life.

To these general characteristics, let’s also add the California Central Coast criteria—the flowers always open, the petals drop-off when spent, and the plant is rarely without flowers. 

I’ve only grown it now for a dozen seasons now so I’m a longtime friend. Others who have had it much longer are equally rapturous with the caveat that it does get “big.” I'd originally planted it in the front yard but there was too much shade so I moved it two years ago into a prime location on a backyard fence.

The breeding of Westerland is one of the most interesting in hybridizing history. In its ancestry, Westerland has R. foetida persica and R. eglanteria—the yellow Persian species which brought that color to modern roses and the wild European sweet briar rose which brought its excellent disease resistance to the table.

The hybrid perpetual General Jacqueminot (1853)—one of the first repeat-flowering crimson-colored roses; the hybrid teas Madama Butterfly (1918), Crimson Glory (1935), Golden Masterpiece (1954), Charlotte Armstrong (1940), and Peace (1945); several of the Pernetia roses including Souvenir de Claudius Pernet (the great French rose hybridizer Pernet (1920)—credited with bringing the color yellow into the hybrid tea class—named this influential hybrid for one of the two sons he lost in World War I.); and the hybrid musk roses Robin Hood (1927) and Eva (1933) through its floribunda parent, Circus (1956).

With such a mixed ancestry, Westerland is given the nondescript classification of “shrub.” Earlier in its history, it was considered a Climbing Floribunda.

Westerland has produced a yellow sport known as Autumn Sunset and an offspringthe relatively unknown but acclaimed, Jane Eyre. 

My cuttings came from former MBRS president Ruth DeBord’s garden. I gave two to the raffle table, one to a friend, put one in the ground, and have one to spare. Even in the worst part of wet springs, I lost no leaves to black spot. Even in the heaviest July fog, it had no powdery mildew.
I presume that Westerland is named for the northern most city in Germany, a seaside resort town. The City of Westerland is located in the Frisian Islands in the North Sea, reachable by causeway, and approximately due west from the German border with Denmark. Given this connection with marine climates, is it any wonder this rose does so well on California’s moist coast?

Westerland, which bears a good rating of 8.3 in the ARS handbook of roses is carried by specialty nurseries and is also available from Weeks and Edmunds. Local nurseries do have access to ordering it so let your contact at your favorite nursery know.

With such ample credits to its name, this rose deserves to be known and grown more. After all, Westerland is where the sun sets in Germany and California is where the sun sets in America. A full spray of Westerland has all the colors of a magnificent sun going down.

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