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Harry Wheatcroft, bred by Wheatcroft and Sons, England, 1972.

Breeding: a striped sport of 'Picadilly'.

When I was a teenager I vividly remember seeing photos of this rose in the mail order catalogs I used to get. I was mesmerized by the brilliant streaks of color in the blooms, never having seen such a thing before. I can't recall exactly why I never ordered a plant of 'Harry Wheatcroft' back then; I suspect it was more money than I wanted to spend my allowance on! Maybe it was better that I left this rose undiscovered until adulthood, when I am better able to appreciate its fickle beauty and strangeness. Naturally, as a young boy I would have been disappointed by it; the blooms hold their magical bright red and yellow hues but for a morning and then the magic quickly dissipates, seemingly gone with the morning dew.

I expect it is because of this quick loss of color intensity that dear 'Harry' passed from mainstream commerce so quickly. (At the time of writing there are but four American nurseries that still offer 'Harry Wheatcroft') Still, when it presents a perfect fresh bloom glowing like a shower of bright sparks, its hard not to be captivated. I can think of no other rose to which the phrase "love it for what it is" is more applicable. It is every bit the striking extrovert that the catalog hype of the 1970's suggested it is, and well worth a place in an eclectic collection of Hybrid Teas. Imperfect, but loveable. Perhaps it will be more widely grown in times to come.

ARS merit rating: 6.3
Personal merit rating: 7.0.
Hardiness: Likely USDA zones 6 to 10, zone 5 with considerable protection.
Shrub size: 2.5 to 4 feet tall X 2 feet wide.
Fragrance: 1.5, very slight fragrance.

Black Tea Mrs. Sam McGredy
Dainty Bess Nigrette
Gray Pearl September Morn
Harry Wheatcroft Smoky
Helen Traubel Soleil d'Or
Hinrich Gaede Tantarra
It's Showtime Tiffany
Julia's Rose Verschuren
La France Vesuvius
Mme. Caroline Testout  

Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 2005, All Rights Reserved.