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RHS Journals

The Garden
August 2002

Blue rose success for amateur

Rosarhapsody in blue

A retired engineer in Derbyshire has come close to discovering the Holy Grail of the horticultural world: a blue rose.
Image: Howard Rice/David Austin Roses

Rosa Rhapsody in Blue ('Frantasia') has dark plum-coloured flowers (RHS Colour Chart 77A), which fade to a striking shade of slate-blue (83B). The colour has been described as iridescent purple, but in overcast conditions it looks remarkably blue.
Frank Cowlishaw started his breeding work 25 years ago and came close to giving up, but friends persuaded him to continue. The seed parent of R. Rhapsody in Blue is R. Summer Wine ('Korizont'), but the pollen parent has a complex parentage. Frank first crossed R. 'Violacea' with R. 'Montezuma', and seedlings from this cross were then bred with R. Blue Moon ('Tannacht'), the archetypal 'blue' rose. The offspring of this was then crossed with R. International Herald Tribune ('Harquantum').
There is no doubt that this rose represents an important colour break. It is a striking plant, which can be grown as a climber, a shrub or, when hard-pruned, as a tall floribunda. It is said to have good disease resistance and regrows quickly after pruning.
The new rose has already won several awards, including The Torridge Award, the Harry Edland Award for the most fragrant rose, a gold medal at the Royal National Rose Society trials in 1999 and a gold medal at The Hague International Rose Trials. Rosa Rhapsody in Blue has been introduced into the commercial market by Warners Roses, with a recommended price of £10. It should be available from January 2003 from many suppliers, including David Austin Roses (01902) 376377, Fryer's Nurseries (01565) 755455 and C&K Jones (01829) 740663.

New blue

Corydalis 'Kingfisher' Corydalis 'Kingfisher' is a new hybrid between C. cashmeriana and C. flexuosa. Developed and introduced by Keith Lever of Aberconwy Nursery, North Wales, (01492) 580875, it is vigorous and easy to grow in a moist soil in sun or some shade. It produces bright blue flowers with dark tips, and will repeat flower from March to September.

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