Apologies to Dr. Huey

This beauteous creature has been getting a bad wrap and I’d like to apologize to Dr. Huey and Capt. Thomas who introduced this lovely rose a long long time ago. Take a gander.

“…the dark carmine climber named after Dr. Huey…has been tested for four years and it is distinct as a large, semi-double, deep red climber of one period of bloom. It is hardy and the color illustration portrays its beauty. The name for it, “Dr. Huey,” was announced at the meeting of the American Rose Society held in the Bloomfield Gardens on Jun 4, 1919 when the rose created great enthusiasm among the experts there.”
The American Rose Annual

How soon we forget.

I have finally taken it upon myself to spend the last two weeks researching the nature of “rootstocks” and the current practice of the grafting of roses and of Dr. Huey in particular. It was Time. I began with an early morning jaunt in my own immediate locale and found plenty of evidence that Dr. Huey is alive and well in Mendocino County, home to many very old established gardens. Testimony began right at home. No need to convince me of the beauty of this lovely old fashioned rose.

Further afield…

Dr. Huey living happily among yellow blossoms

A climbing Dr. Huey lending its charm to a bare crepe myrtle

Dr. Huey with a happy pink and white companion

More Dr. Huey beauty

Dr. Huey bringing loveliness and color to a casual garden

Now, yes, yes, I know. Dr. Huey’s strength was recognized as a perfect rose to graft beautiful tea roses, fancy fare onto, borrowing from its qualities. Fine. I get it. I have a plum tree in my yard I would love to graft a “bigger, better” plum onto. However, I do think it’s sad that Dr. Huey, once honored by the American Rose Society, has fallen into disrepute as a “common rose” or, worse, a “weed rose.” It’s not.

I also fully understand that due to the vibrancy and resilience of Dr. Huey that he can actually “overtake” the rose someone probably “paid good money for” and that would leave the gardener less than happy. Even I, doing this research, had to come to the realization that one of my favored roses in my very own garden might possibly be endangered by Dr. Huey suckers (shock) and took out two or three of those this morning with no regret. However, I am imploring us to show a little respect for the Dr. Huey that has made so many other roses possible, and to perhaps considering there might be a place for its beauty just as it is in our gardens. There is in mine.

Sweet bouquet garnered from the fallen “suckers”

The rose is, according to fossil evidence, 35 million years old. Garden cultivation of roses began over 5,000 years ago, most likely in China. There is a history that I believe ought be respected, cherished, loved and to be grateful for. Dr. Huey most certainly falls into a very important part of that history. Be kind.

For the record, I did reach out to the David Austin folks in Texas. I was told I should email their technician, Michael, who was out of the country, but, bless his heart, he did get back to me straightaway. Here was his input:

Dear Kathryn,

Thank you for your email…Since I have never grown roses on Dr. Huey personally (we use Laxa over here in the UK) I am not sure of the answer but looking around gardens in the States I don’t think you see too many Dr. Huey so I think not a huge proportion will end up as it. The change of it happening [reverting] is, I am sure related to, as you say, the diligence of the gardener but it would also be related to the strength of the rose and one that suffers more from disease [or frigid winters] is more likely to have the Dr. Huey grow through than a strong growing, healthy variety.”

I must invite Michael to California for his own personal tour of Dr. Huey roses in May. It would not take long. ๐Ÿ™‚

Love and rosey blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Note: I want to extend my thanks to my cousin Julie for her sharing her rose knowledge with me. So helpful.

Book News: An excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy has now been published in the June issue of the Dutch version of Ode Magazine. I cannot wait to see one of my stories translated into Dutch, particularly as that particular story took place in Amsterdam!

Southern California readers, please watch for an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in the June issue of Whole Person Calendar, on stands May 27th!

…I also hear tell that my book is being featured in the window at Santa Cruz Bookstore, which was heartwarming to learn. Thank you!

16 Responses to “Apologies to Dr. Huey”

  1. I think people should just keep growing Dr. Huey if they lose the grafted top. I love it. Right now we are 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. My Agnes (which is really probably a Harrison’s Yellow since it never reblooms) and another rugosa is in bloom, also two of the Canadians, John Cabot and one other, also several of the Griffin Buck roses, bred in Iowa for cold prairie winters and my wonderful Stanwell Perpetual which gets a little bigger every year but nothing like the ones at the Old Rose garden at OARDC in Wooster Ohio. These are all on their own root stock so should last for 100 years if no one takes an ax to them. Nothing in my yard is ever as small as it is supposed to be. My Send in the Clowns is threatening to take over the whole back and side of my house. Reminds me of the briar hedge around Sleeping Beauty’s castle. I will send you an e-mail with links to good nurseries that do heirloom roses on their own root stock that I’ve had good experiences with. Hugs from here, Julie

  2. Hi, Julie, Thanks again for your wondrous and abundant help. It’s good to imagine you surrounded by roses! I LOVE your comment about everything being bigger than one expects (and sent it out on Twitter, I liked it so much!).
    Gardeners will relate. I do. Dr. Huey will not appeal to formal garden folks. I’ve learned that right here in town. I found one growing at the NURSERY and she told me to come “dig it up” which I’m going to do. Ha! Kathryn xoxo

  3. Kathryn, You’re so right about Dr. Huey! It’s just as pretty as the pictures, and unbelievably tough.

    When I moved into my house 3 years ago and planted my vegetable garden in a recently cleared space in the yard, a rosebush kept trying to sprout amongst the vegetables. I kept trying to eradicate it. Finally last fall out of respect for its tenacity I let it grow, and now it’s blooming beautifully next to the strawberries.

    Definitely a keeper.

    I wonder if it was originally a rootstock for something else?

    Dr. Huey led me to your site and I’ve just subscribed.

    Cheers! Jane

  4. Hi, Jane and welcome! I’m glad you are a Dr. Huey fan. I had the exact same experience with Dr. H. sticking his little leaves up in my vege garden. I said, “What’s that? A ROSE??” and let it grow, and now it’s a big fixture next to the rainbow chard! I can pretty much guarantee you that your Dr. H was, indeed, rootstock for something long gone. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for subscribing! Enjoy! Kathryn xoxo


  6. Hi, Rose! This comment had me in giggles, and it’s early morning here, so I’d say you just did same for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks! Kathryn xoxo

  7. Gorgeous pictures! Gorgeous roses! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love you,

  8. Hi, Sweetheart, Thanks so much! Love you back! Mom xoxo

  9. Kathryn, it seems as if it isn’t Dr. Huey they grafted upon here. He is much too attractive. Ours is a dark almost black rose part of the time. Did you also know they sometimes use R. multiflora as rootstock? The bad part about this is R. multiflora is the carrier for rose rosette disease and can spread even further into our rose beds. I’ve always thought rootstocks were interesting. We should have respect indeed.~~Dee

  10. Good morning, Dee! Know you are a rose lover so glad you saw this post. These are what Dr. Huey looks like in CA. Verified at our oldest nursery. Wonder if soil can influence color of roses? Do you know? I thought it was interesting that David Austin’s site says all their roses are grafted onto Dr. Huey, but then their marketing person said, “The site is not up to date.” And their technician says they are using “laxa” in the UK, so not sure now what they are using in TX. Yes, I saw in researching this post that R. Multiflora is used, w/ warning about “chlorosis”; also R. odorata and Fortuniana, R. Rugosa and R. Canina. I know there are small pink roses growing on this property that I now recognize as old rootstock, but no clue what they are. Fascinating! Think I will stick with original roots from now on in my purchases! Kathryn xoxo

  11. Count me in as a fan of Dr. Huey, dear Kathryn. Great post and June ((hugs)).

  12. Welcome, Joey and thank you! Glad to hear you appreciate these lovely red roses! Happy spring! Kathryn xoox

  13. I suspect one of the sad old rose bushes that came with my house in East Oakland may be Dr Huey. It’s really struggling, and I wonder if I could move it to a happier location?

  14. Hi, Lisa and Robb, and welcome! My first hit is to cut it back (each cut to a five-leaf configuration) and fertilize it. Dr. Huey is tough and you are saying “old”. There’s a reason why they use Dr. Huey as rootstock. ๐Ÿ™‚ Water at ground level. Don’t get leaves wet at night. Bet it thrives! (This is assuming it gets sun!) Good luck! Kathryn xoxo

  15. The Ebb Tide I bought at Sam’s succumbed to our TX weather last year, but the Dr. Huey root stock is spilling out of the large pot I had used. I glad to see what it’s going to look like when the buds open.

    I had a feeling that this was a rambler or climber and was going to be BIG! Thanks so much for the info and lovely pix!

  16. Hi, Claire, and welcome! I’m glad this post served you! Enjoy! I love my Dr. Hueys! Kathryn xoxo

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