Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Plants I Know and Love No. 5: Cherokee Rose

Good morning. Tina here. I am going to tell you about a wonderful shrub that I discovered and fell in love with soon after I moved to Kelsey, the Cherokee Rose.

It is an evergreen climbing rose which originally came from China. Brought to the United States in the early 1700's by immigrants, it was soon growing in home gardens. It is very sturdy and can thrive in poor soil and in droughts.
The rose, which has a very short blooming period in late March and early April, is a lovely snow-white with a yellow center. In looks it is similar to the matilija poppy flower which I showed you in the blog December 2nd, but it is much smaller. It is also quite fragrant.
This is a shot of one of my Cherokee Rose shrubs when it was first planted against the deck on the South side of my house. I ordered the two shrubs I have from the Internet. This was my second attempt. The first plants I received were very small and not well-rooted and did not make it. These plants, which now are about 7 years old, were in much better condition, and did well. As you can tell by the fencing, the deer find them quite tasty.
Sometime after we moved to Kelsey in 1999, there was a photo in the Placerville newspaper, the Mountain Democrat, of a large climbing rose bush completely enveloping the side of an old barn in Coloma. White flowers covered the shrub. I was enthralled and soon drove to Coloma to find the barn. I discovered the name of the plant and decided I wanted one, and could not find them in the nurseries around the area. That is where the Internet comes in handy!
After I had planted my shrubs and they were starting to get larger, the paper ran another photo of the barn in Coloma and the rose. This was about 5 years after the first photo which had caught my eye. However, in this photo the photographer identified the plant as a camelia! I do have to admit that the flower can look like some camellias I have seen, and it does bloom early. Even the leaves, since they are evergreen, can look like camellia leaves. I have seen plants mislabeled in photographs in the paper many times, I get a kick out of it.
The Cherokee Rose became the state flower of Georgia in 1916. It is tragically linked to history in that state by the "Trail of Tears". In 1838 thousands of Cherokee were forced off their lands east of the Mississippi River, and the path they took on the journey was called the Trail of Tears because of all the tears the women shed as they traveled. The legend is that a Cherokee Rose grew everywhere a tear dropped.
This is a closeup of one of the beautiful fleeting blooms of the Cherokee Rose.
The rose is starting to climb up a trellis by the deck. It started flowering the next spring after it was planted, and now when it blooms it is fully covered. I can't wait until this spring. Someday perhaps the whole side of our house will be covered like the barn in Coloma.
Here on the left you can see a spray that has escaped the deer fencing and is attempting to cover the air conditioning unit.
This poor little shrub is my other Cherokee Rose which is growing against the garage on the West side of the house. The soil there is terrible and the sun is relentless, but it still tries hard to grow. I want it to grow up and cover the windows someday, if the deer give it a chance. This shrub has had a tough time, between the soil and the deer, and the workers who re-sided our home. Wood, gravel, ladders, you name it, was piled on it. Then two years later my husband painted the house, so it had paint on it from the sprayer, and got cut back and pushed aside. Now maybe it will have a chance to grow tall. The Cherokee Rose can reach heights of 20 feet.
This is the shape it was in (along with its neighboring hollyhock) after the workers put the siding on. Above are the windows of the garage I hope to have shaded by the shrub someday.
This is my garage rose about 3 years ago. It is getting bigger (in spite of the deer) and it blooms well.
A close up of the many blooms. You can see here how someone could mistake both leaves and blooms for a Camellia.
Keep growing, don't give up!
The Cherokee Rose on the South of the house has now grown up past the railing of the deck and it attempting to make it to the deck roof. It finds the boost the drainage spout offers very helpful. I haven't had to tie it up at all. I have helped it wind its way through the trellis occasionally.
The bush is very full of thorns, so I am glad I don't need to prune it or work with it too often.
If you are in need of an evergreen flowering shrub to cover your garage or barn, look into the Cherokee Rose. You can plant a bit of history right there in your yard. You will be rewarded with lovely blooms and a sturdy fast-growing hardy plant.


yosemite faith said...

fantastic post - i have never heard of this. love the idea of it covering that barn. when john gets back from st louis i am going to show him this post and see if we will give it a try. he has the green thumb in the family (his mom was a fantastic gardener/grower).

Heidi Ann said...

Sturdy, fast-growing and hardy - sounds like the kind of flower even I could handle! Thank you for another informative post with lovely pictures!