I went for a wander in my rose garden the other day and saw four beautiful Ophelia buds in various stages of development. Instantly, I decided they would feature as this week’s Rose of the Week. Knowing nothing about Ophelia, I dragged out my rose books and started reading. I was amazed at what I found.
As it turns out, Ophelia is the oldest Hybrid Tea you’ll find in catalogues – it is one of the great classics. Ophelia is the rose that more than any other established what the ideal Hybrid Tea flower should be: its petals gracefully spiral out from a high, pointed centre, gently recurving at the edges, to finish with an open centre.
Ophelia was described by one writer as the ‘Queen Mother of Roses’ for not only did it prove an important parent in the hands of hybridists, but it spontaneously produced a series of sports in new shades of pink. According to Roger Mann there are 37 of them in total, more than any other rose. These and Ophelia itself are names that still come up whenever rosarians debate the question, ‘What is the most beautiful pink rose?’
Ophelia has elegant, double, pale salmon pink flowers with lemon centres. The blooms have 28 petals and are borne on long, straight, strong stems in clusters. The repeat is good and it has a delightful perfume, a rare thing in Hybrid Teas.
Ophelia is an exceptionally good cut flower. I couldn’t stop taking photos of it. The first photo was taken just after it was cut. I last photo was taken after three days in the vase and a trip from Bridgetown to Perth. I am always amazed when I bring a cut flower back to Perth and it survives the trip. You will note in the last photo the flower is virtually flat whereas in the photo before it the recurving is evident.
Ophelia was introduced by William, Paul & Son, UK 1912. Ophelia was named after Shakespeare’s tragic heroine. It is still popular after more than 100 years.