(you can click on the photos to enlarge)
Good lavender or mauve colored roses are hard to come by, very hard to come by actually. Somehow they seemed to be more fussy to grow and disease prone than any other colored roses. On the other hand I find the color so special and striking that I am always on the hunt for a nice lavender rose. They have an appeal that is hard to resist and are also stunning in bouquets. Usually roses in this color are very fragrant, which is a big plus in my eyes. Out of the seven lavender or mauve colored roses that I have grown so far 'Sweetness' is really one of the best and therefore I would like to portrait this rose today.
'Sweetness' is classified as lavender, mauve or mauve-blend grandiflora and was bred by Dr. Keith W. Zary (United States, 2008). The rose was introduced in the United States by Jackson & Perkins in 2009 and to my knowledge is still sold exclusively by this company. 'Sweetness' was bred from 'Melody Perfumee' (seed) and 'Lagerfeld' x 'Shocking Blue' (pollen).
The rose is described by public sources to be a vigorous and healthy grower with good heat tolerance. The flowers are ovoid, pointed and high-centered, which usually occur in small clusters. The flower size is 4.5" - 5 " and has a petal count of about 30 rose petals and can be called full. The blooms have a powerful, strong citrus fragrance, which is very pleasing.
The rose likes full sun and is supposed to grow well in zone 5 - 10. The width is listed to be 3' to 4' feet and the height 5'. 'Sweetness' blooms in flushes throughout the season. The bush form is medium upright and the rose has glossy, dark green, healthy foliage.
Sweetness makes a good garden plant but also delivers nice cut flowers.
My 'Sweetness' was ordered for me as a birthday present from a friend (thank you Petia!) about three years ago. The rose was sent from Jackson & Perkins as a good size own root, bare root rose, which started to leave out and grow immediately after being potted up in a five gallon container. It did not take long and it flowered nicely (see photo below).
What stands out the most about this rose in my growing experience with her is the disease resistance. This is one of the two most healthiest roses that I grow in my garden up to today out of maybe 75 roses altogether. For a lavender colored rose this is quite astounding, I think! I have never seen a speck of blackspot or powdery mildew on my 'Sweetness' so far. Sure Southern California is not exactly blackspot country, but in certain weather conditions like this spring for example we get our share, too, and we do have sometimes a lot of powdery mildew pressure. Since I garden organically and do not spray disease resistance is very important to me, especially in this color range. Just to give you a contrasting example for a lavender rose that is basically a disaster in my garden lets talk about 'Sterling Silver' for a moment. The leaves of this rose are white on the top from powdery mildew and orange from below from rust right now, yuk! I have never seen a bloom on 'Sterling Silver' so far because the rose is too sickly to produce some and barely surviving.
The blooms of my 'Sweetness' rose get fairly big up to the size they are supposed to according to the general information available about this rose shared above in this post. The best of them besides the wonderful color is the truly strong citrus, lemon fragrance in which I easily can get lost. I simply love roses with a strong fragrance! I also like to cut the flowers for indoors where I enjoy the big, Hybrid Tea-style blooms often placed as a single flower in a vase.
'Sweetness' is easy to grow own roots, grows vigorously, and does not need to be grafted on any rootstock in my garden experience, which sadly is not always the case, even though a rose is sold own roots from the grower. My rose stayed smaller than the official descriptions say. I just went out and measured it: height is 3' and width 3', too. That is basically the same measurement that the rose reached last year. I do not complain that my 'Sweetness' stays smaller than it is supposed too, since many roses especially the Hybrid Tea roses become here very tall, leggy and bare legged, whereas the bush of 'Sweetness' is almost round and full as you can see on the picture below. The bush would even be more dense, if the rabbits did not attack it so badly when it was just leaving out and making new canes. I suspect that the root competition with yet another Queen Anne Palm keeps the rose from being taller or it could also be that the rose is still too young and therefore has not reached her mature size. It is just about two years in the ground.
I also find that this rose is really heat tolerant, in fact, it seems to love the heat of summer here and thrives in it if watered well, of course. The blooms also do not crisp easily, which is a big advantage for those living in Southern California, only when it is so very hot that almost all flowers of my roses start to burn. On the other side I just found out this spring where we had plenty of rain for our area, that the rose can also take rain without balling or the color of the blooms being ruined or the petals getting brown and mushy. The photo below taken yesterday just shows the first bloom of 'Sweetness' this year after a couple of days of rain and just enough sunshine that day for the flower to open. Out of all my roses, it is the second rose to flower, so it seems to be an early bloomer, which is another plus in my eyes.
If this rose has one small flaw I would say it is that it does not repeat as quickly as I would like it to do. The spring flush is always nice, but after that it takes time to repeat, longer than is common for this type of rose class. Also the amount of blooms seem to shrink from flush to flush over one growing season. I am wondering if this also has something to do with the age of my rose and the root competition with the palm. This year I intend to fertilize is more repeatedly and see if this makes a difference. But as always you can not have it all and 'Sweetness' has enough positive attributes that I dearly love it. It is truly one of my best lavender roses!
Since the rose is not that long in commerce I would love to hear about your experience with Sweetness, if you grow this rose!
See you in the garden!