'Julia Child' Roses Are a Delight for the Senses
If you have a shelf of Julia Child cookbooks in your kitchen, you need a row of 'Julia Child' roses in your garden. They're floribunda roses that repeat bloom in big, free-flowering clusters all season, and they're a perfect match for the celebrated chef who lent her name to the shrub.
'Julia Child' is a lovely rose cultivar that produces vibrant, butter-yellow roses (after all, butter is an essential ingredient in French cooking). The licorice-scented golden blooms are borne heavily on lush, glossy green foliage. These roses hit the scene in 2004 and were bred by Tom Carruth by crossing the roses 'Voodoo' with Rosa soulieana, 'Summerwine,' and 'Topnotch.' Wild versions of R. soulieana have a fragrance that is described as clove or cinnamon—lending a culinary scent to a rose that appealed to the connoisseur of cooking.
"Just before our wonderful American icon left us, she selected this exceptional rose to bear her name. Julia loved the even butter gold color and the licorice candy fragrance," according to Weeks Roses, the growers that originally introduced the rose. "Yet it wasn't just the old-fashioned blooms that inspired the recipe. The perfectly rounded habit, super glossy leaves, and great disease resistance finish off the dish."
Why You Should Plant 'Julia Child' Roses
'Julia Child' was sure to be a winner, earning the All-America Rose Selection Award in 2006. The resulting plant was also launched in the U.K. (where it's named for the television show Absolutely Fabulous) and in Australia. The flower's popularity can be traced to its large clusters of very full golden blooms, its repeat blooming pattern, and a long blooming season from late spring to late fall. Very heat-tolerant and hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 10, this rose is suited to the warm temperatures of the South. Ordinarily, these bushes are quite compact and rounded, growing to a height of 25 to 30 inches and a width of 20 to 25 inches. As a landscape planting, the rose is quite versatile and can be used in flower beds, containers, and borders. The sturdy stems of this floribunda rose also make it a perfect cut flower for decorating the dinner table.
How to Grow 'Julia Child' Roses
Plant your rose in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Dig a hole as deep as your rose's container and twice as wide, mixing in soil conditioner or compost if your soil needs amending. Plant your rose, mulching around the base, and water frequently until the plant is established.
If you purchased bare-root roses in winter, soak the roots in a bucket of water for two to 12 hours before planting. Dig a hole about 18 inches wide and deep and mound the soil in the center. Drape your plant's roots over the mound, making certain that the swelling on the main stem of the plant where your rose was grafted is just above the soil level (in colder climates, the base should be planted an inch or two below the soil level). Backfill with soil, amending it first if necessary, and water well. Trim back any long canes and mulch around the base.
While 'Julia Child' is a carefree and compact rose, yearly pruning is recommended. Prune your rose in early spring, removing any dead wood and cutting back canes that cross. Cut the remaining canes by 1/3 to encourage flowering.
Personifying roses through their names is part of the fun, and the personality of the celebrated chef certainly fits this vibrant rose. Let the sweet, licorice-smelling perfume of 'Julia Child' tickle your senses this summer. You just might be inspired to whip up a quiche lorraine, salade Nicoise, and chocolate mousse to accompany it.