Remember when I first bought my house, I was super excited about the rose bush, but didn’t know what variety it was? I’ve finally solved the mystery, and indeed it is interesting. I’ve been reading more about roses recently, primarily to learn about when and how to prune them, since by the fall last year it’s long rambling canes and sharp thorns were growing over both my outside spigot and my gas meter.
In the process of learning about pruning and how to train it to a trellis, I also learned it’s variety. He is ‘Dr. Huey,’ which is commonly used throughout the United States, and especially in Ohio as rootstock for various types of grafted roses. In all likelihood, the previous owners planted an entirely different variety of rose, which has since died or was taken over by the rootstock, leaving only Dr. Huey. To many rose enthusiasts, Dr. Huey is a nuisance and it was recommended by several people that I dig him up and get rid of him so I could start “real roses” instead. But the truth is, I’ve become quite fond of my rose and I want to keep him.
The more I read about Dr. Huey’s history, the more I became enamored with him. He was originally bred by Captain George C. Thomas in 1914, so Dr. Huey celebrated his 100th birthday the year I bought my house. Dr. Huey was first introduced in the United States in 1920. It is also sometimes known as ‘Shafter‘. Like some other old-fashioned roses, Dr. Huey only blooms once in late spring/early summer. His blooms are dark red, semi-doubles with bright yellow stamens, which fade to magenta. He blooms off of old wood, so should be pruned after blooming. The reason his long, rambling canes have grown over my spigot and gas meter are that he is a Hybrid Wichurana climber. Hopefully if I give him a trellis of his own to climb and prune him away from these he will behave!
The biggest problem with Dr. Huey is that he is very susceptible to black spot and powdery mildew – both of which I encountered last year. I was actually afraid that my poor rose was dying between the black spot and powdery mildew covering the leaves and the thistles and bindweed trying to choke it out. Fortunately, Dr. Huey is known for it’s toughness, which is what has managed to get it through the years of minimal care by the house’s caretakers prior to my purchase. And I’m now reading up on how to control bindweed as well as how to deal with and prevent blackspot and powdery mildew in order to give Dr. Huey the best fighting chance!
One bit of Dr. Huey’s history that I haven’t been able to find much information about is who the rose itself was named after. Though a few reference the rose as Dr. Robert Huey, none give specific reference to any particular person who goes by this name. A mystery to be uncovered in the future perhaps?