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Bastrop Botanical Gardens

My Favorite Rose

by Jeff Long

Mutablis Rose

As spring wells up in Central Texas, so do the colors of nature, especially for the rose lover. Watching the roses begin to bloom around our nursery, my eye has often been caught by the unusual and minimalist beauty of a certain china rose, the Mutabilis. Shy like a wallflower at first, this lovely plant flowers first with a pale yellow, like a few wisps of parchment. As the days march forward, Mutabilis’ bloom then blushes pink and finally mutates to a carmine, as if it were truly embarrassed by it’s own beauty and potential. As the season progresses, you will find the five-petaled flower spread about the plant in all its lovely shades, making an average six-foot bush that truly lives up to its reputation.

Sometimes called the "Butterfly Rose", its delicate flowers often resembling a resting place for the insect the petals seem to imitate, you have to be quick to catch its fleeting fragrance when the flower just opens. According to documentation, this hardy plant was introduced before 1894 and grows from five to seven feet with repeating blooms and just a few hips and will tolerate some shade. It is considered scentless by most rose growers because of its momentary fragrance, but prized for its variety of colors that appear at the same time.

Mutabilis beautiful reddish foliage makes a perfect background for this changeling rose and many experts say this twiggy shrub make an excellent wall plant, suited to brighten any landscape. In fact, it is an excellent transition plant in the garden when changing your color scheme from yellow to pink. I like the plant so well, in fact, I have adopted a picture I took of a single bloom for the "desktop" on my computer, where it’s beauty can be with me all day long – my favorite rose.

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