Petal Power

With planting season in full swing, Tom Carruth, curator of the legendary rose collection at The Huntington, shares his top five artistic varieties.


Not quite blue but a good effort.
Smoky-grey lavender blossoms come in large clusters. They open to reveal a white “eye” inside each flower, accentuating the unusual near-blue tones. Very vigorous and clean, it matures to a good-size shrub.


Although the namesake was known for his drab cityscapes, the floral scape of his rose is always exciting and bright. Each petal of this large-flowered, hybrid tea variety is striped uniquely with red, yellow, pink and cream. Hard to find but worth the hunt.


Warm, leather-tanned buds unfurl to shapely café latte-colored flowers that finish as light lavender. A powerhouse when it comes to producing flowers, this floribunda blooms early and repeats readily. This is currently Barbra Streisand’s favorite rose. (The Barbra Streisand rose is one of my hybrids. I’ve worked with her and a consultant since about 1999.)


You might think it to be an orange-yellow or a pure gold, but what makes it truly outstanding in the garden is its depth of color and color retention. Naturally vigorous and clean, the bushy plant fills out well, pumping out long-stemmed bloom after bloom after bloom.


With an indescribable color of smoked raspberry with lavender tones, this free-flowering vigorous shrub/floribunda can match the Iceberg variety for bloom production. It is also more disease resistant and gets bushier. The hues can change in different temperatures but always look good against the dark red new growth.

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