Heirloom Roses: Rosa Mundi
Rosa mundi is an ancient rose. It is a "sport" or genetic mutation of the famous Apothecary's Rose long grown for its medicinal and culinary uses.
According to legend, Rosa Mundi is named for the mistress of the English King Henry II who ruled England from 1154 to his death in 1189. She was born Jane Clifford but later was known as Fair Rosamund. As was common in those days, Henry's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine was an arranged marriage. Eleanor was jealous of Rosamund and killed her using an oil made from the Apothecary's Rose, dark pink and Rosa alba, a white rose.
After Rosamund's death, it was said that a new rose, with red and white stripes appeared outside of the castle where she lived. Every year, Henry decorated her tomb with flowers from the new rose, Rosa Mundi.
Rosa mundi is hardy through zone 4. It is a compact rose growing to 3- to 4 feet tall and makes an excellent hedge. It will tolerate shade and poor soil. The branches have very few thorns. The flowers are semi-double and striped white and dark pink or crimson. They have a typical old rose fragrance. Rosa mundi flowers once a year in the late spring. Rose hips, beloved of birds, develop in the fall.
Like most heirloom roses, rosa mundi is disease resistant.
An initial pruning can be done in very early spring. Remove dead or dying canes only at this time. Any dead leaves, branches or other brush should be removed from under your bush to prevent the spread of insects and disease.
Annual pruning should be done after your rose has finished blooming but no later than late summer. To shape it, cut the top canes down by one third and side canes by two thirds.
More heirloom roses
© 2014 Caren White