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Archive for the ‘Walsh Ramblers’ Category

1a-Walsh-Ramblers

Walsh Ramblers

In early July, Angelina and I visited Woods Hole, a picturesque seaside village located in the town of  Falmouth on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod. The main street is a typical Cape Cod scene with shops and eateries along the waterfront that leads down to the ferry landing. Here travelers can board the popular ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.

However, had we made this trip 100 years ago, the landscape would have been very much different. On the hillside by the road entering town, we would have seen potting sheds, greenhouses and rows upon rows of roses. These roses were hybridized and grown for sale by Michael Walsh and the roses he bred became known as Walsh Ramblers.

4-Excelsa

Excelsa

Walsh had arrived in Woods Hole in 1875 and worked for a time as a gardener. In the 1890s, he began hybridizing ramblers, a climbing rose form having long, thin, supple canes with large clusters of small flowers. These were characteristics inherited from Rosa wichurana , a species rose that Walsh used extensively in his hybridizing program and is in the near background of most of his ramblers. These climbers are once-bloomers with an extended bloom cycle lasting from late June through mid July.

100 year old Walsh Rambler

100 year old Rambler

The reason for our visit was at the invitation of  Gretchen Warren, a Woods Hole resident and Walsh Rambler expert. We met up with Gretchen at the Woods Hole Historical Museum, the starting point of her fascinating walking tour of Walsh Ramblers. This tour weaved through quiet neighborhoods only a few blocks away from busy Woods Hole Road. She began by explaining the history behind these roses and how they came to be. As we walked along these tranquil side streets, Gretchen pointed out ramblers growing casually by the side of the road, along fences, and up and over stone walls. Many of them date back decades when they were planted by nursery workers who had lived in the area. Others were planted in lush private gardens of friends of Gretchen who graciously welcomed us in to visit. These were intimate English style-gardens half hidden from the road featuring roses and lots of other plants. This remarkable longevity, also inherited from wichurana, was highlighted as we passed a robust rambler, believed to be a Walsh Rambler, in a front yard that has been reliably dated back more than 100 years.

3-Debutante

Debutante

Ramblers grow rapidly and possess above average –– way above average –– disease resistance. Gretchen pointed out a few cases of powdery mildew, but for the most part the foliage we saw was amazingly clean.

5-Lady-Blanche

Lady Blanche

From the late 1890s through 1920, Walsh introduced 35 varieties  ––  a prolific achievement considering that his professional rose hybridizing career only spanned 25 years. Rose names are important for marketing purposes and Walsh had a fine touch. Charming names that we like include Excelsa, Arcadia, Evangeline, Hiawatha, Maid Marion, Lady Blanche, Coquina and Nokomis. (Gretchen gave us a rooted cutting that she believed to be Nokomis ––  fragrant pink and lavender blooms –– which I’ve planted along our fence with plenty of room to grow.)

6-Nokomis-Closeup

Nokomis

Now knowing what to look for, we spotted anonymous feral ramblers in full bloom scrambling along stone walls and fences on the way out of town surviving nicely on rain water and nutrients gleaned from the soil.

7-Nokomis

Nokomis

It doesn’t get much better for a couple of rosarians than a day trip to scenic Woods Hole to explore Walsh Ramblers and enjoy the hospitality of Gretchen Warren.

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