All About Lady Banks Roses

Honestly, I’d walked by this little bank of roses at the end of a neighbor’s fence for years and never thought much about it. Sweet, but nothing to write home about, right?


But then an elderly woman down the street, whose gardening knowledge I’ve come to respect and rely upon, motioned casually to a large spread of small yellow roses that apparently was in the process of taking over a small tree in the back of her garden, spilling over a fence and into an adjacent garden. Given that I live with a trumpet vine that long ago took over a pittosporum tree in the back yard, I still was not duly impressed.

Until I visited a nursery at the far end of town and this caught my eye.


And this!


“What’s underneath?” I asked Christine, the woman who owns the nursery.

She laughs. “See that metal frame just next to it? One of those large poles is underneath that mound of roses. It took it down!”

Wow. Truly a plant to be reckoned with! Now it has my attention.

Christine recommended that I go north down a street not far from where I live to see the awesome possibilities of a Lady Banks Rose. Next to a meandering creek, full of flowing water from the recent rains, I found this towering testimony to what a determined Lady Banks Rose can do! (Would love to know more about the woman after whom it’s named. I hope she was a dynamite lady! And I hope she traveled a lot!)


I am now fully engaged, and I’m itching to put one in the ground and bear witness to it as it does its marvelous thing. This will require some serious responsible planning, as clearly it could not care less what it eats in its path in its endeavor to be itself. As one who has written extensively about the metaphorical value of the lessons learned in the garden, Lady Banks Roses would have required an entire chapter devoted to it. As close as I came in Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is “Allow ample space for the breadth of your vision”, but also, succinctly, “Never underestimate the power of one tiny seed!”

I have a fence in mind that could use some beautifying, and I think there are no trees within its reach. OK, I just looked. Maybe a privet might get courted, but I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Researching what I need to know about Lady Banks Roses to successfully grow one is heartening. I have learned they have been regarded as quite trouble free for generations. Good. And Christine has already assured me I need not bother, really, with pruning. (How would one do that on a thirty foot tree anyway?) It is found in yellow or white, though I believe yellow is more common. And it is found in both a single and double blossom.

Here’s what you can anticipate up close:



Lady Banks Roses come originally from China. They are named after the wife of the man who brought them to our sphere. Their proper name is Rosa banksiae. They bloom once a year.

Poking around on the Internets, I found this lovely tribute from a woman’s garden long ago. So charming…


Meanwhile, back to Christine’s nursery, Whispering Winds Nursery, I inquired if I might come sometime and do a small book event and she was, happily, delighted! So please take note if you are in Marin, Sonoma or Mendocino Counties (all of which I call Home) please consider coming up or over Friday, April 15th. From 1:00-4:00PM I will be sitting under a tree greeting folks, signing and selling copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy! And guess what? Christine and Jim have kindly offered to extend a 10% discount on any plants purchased with a purchase of my book! I found this enormously kind and generous. And be advised they have an excellent abundant choice of flowers and plants you will not be likely to find elsewhere. It’s a lovely setting. I would love to see you! And maybe afterward we could find a small cafe and sit and chat!

Warm garden love and blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

More details…

12 Responses to “All About Lady Banks Roses”

  1. How Lovely, and very impressive! Wow! Can’t wait to see your own Lady Banks Roses climb. Wish I could be at the event, which I know will be beautiful, fun and inspirational. Xoxo

  2. Antonia, thanks! I think it will be fun to watch grow! I will send you pics from the event! I could even live Tweet! Love, Mom xoxo

  3. I think Lady Banks might not appreciate -3 degrees in April! I do not myself. However, your book signing beneath the trees in a nursery full of flowers sounds very inviting.

  4. Oh, my, Alice! I’m so sorry! You must be longing for spring! Wish you could transport yourself to the flowery booksigning! Kathryn xoxo

  5. Wow! I love all your posts (and your book); however, this one really makes me smile for I have a similar most-bountiful Lady Banks display (also called Tombstone Rose in this Tucson area)! Each spring I tell friends they MUST come see my display – the abundance is amazing and so happy! Nine years ago I planted 2 bushes, one white and (I thought) one yellow. I only have white, of the multi-petal variety. I do cut it back some in spring after its bloom, primarily because my “cultivated” garden area around the house is not large. Several months ago we had a huge windstorm, and it blew much Lady Banks into the house side (there’s still much on the outer side, too), so I must do a considerable cutback on the house side to reclaim space until next spring’s magnificence! Thank you thank you!

  6. Lady Banks did travel a lot as her husband was Joseph Banks, the botanist on board the ships that brought Captain Cook to Australia. Lovely post! Good luck with your book signing.. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hi, KathyAnne! Love hearing about your Lady Banks Rose experience! And, yes, I’m aware of that famous Lady Banks Rose in Tombstone! The base is incredible!! I was happy to hear I could have roses if I ever live in AZ again. I had thought not. I’m glad you invite your friends to see your big baby! Kathryn xoxo

  8. Hi, Ruma, and welcome. It’s kind of you to fill me in on Lady Banks’s travels! I was aware her husband traveled afar to bring us lovely things. I’m glad she enjoyed his adventures! (Someone should make a movie!) Thank you for your kind wishes! Kathryn xoxo

  9. Hi, again, Kathryn — About roses in AZ, atleast here in the Tucson area: apparently they love it here! …which, as a former New Englander, I was surprised to learn. However, the 3 roses already here when I moved into this house 9 years ago have always performed magnificently! So much so that this year I have added 3 new roses to my garden and I’m so excited to see how they do! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. KathyAnne, i appreciate knowing this. Thank you. I lived north of Phoenix once and I missed what I was used to (as you will understand) and have often wondered if there were other parts of AZ where I might actually grow things more familiar. I do like Baja Fairydusters and bougainvillea, though. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

  11. Wow, those Lady Banks Roses are incredible! That shot of the huge bloom of them blew my mind ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Hi, Matt, and welcome! Yes, they are quite impressive, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

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