I'd like to be crowned King of the World. I'd like to fly like a bird. I'd like to bathe in Balvenie DoubleWood Single Malt Scotch Whisky. And I'd like to grow a blue rose. Unfortunately, none of these things is likely to happen.

Especially the "blue rose." Plant breeders have been working for decades to introduce a truly blue rose, which is about the only color they don't come in (there's even a green rose). But the only place I've ever seen a blue rose is in those ads they run in the Sunday supplements where every single bloom has been obviously colored sky-blue by some stupid printer who has never seen a rose.

Now, there actually is something called a "blue rose." That's the nickname for an old hybrid multiflora rambler whose real name is 'Veilchenblau' ("veil of blue" in German). It's quite beautiful in bloom and offers colors you rarely see. Trouble is, none of those colors is true blue.


'Veilchenblau' rose in my front garden today.

This rose bears stunning clusters of literally hundreds of blooms over a period of a couple of weeks in mid-spring. New, quarter-size blossoms of purple-maroon change to silver dollar-size blossoms of grayish-blue, a color I might also describe as varicose-vein blue or the color people turn when they foolishly decide to swim in the vast Bering Sea.

'Veilchenblau' is called a rambler for a reason with has nothing to do with those terrible old American Motors cars my father kept buying.


1958 Rambler. Dig those space-age tail fins and headlights that hit before the bumper does!

This rose is classified as a rambler because it grows faster than Senator Arlen Spector abandons his principles. Ten feet a year is no problem. The thing even grows during mild stretches in winter! Last year, one cane nearly pried the downspout off of my house. In a fit of pique, I cut it way back and then sprayed it with Roundup. Execution completed.

The rose suffered for a while, sending out these sickly, distorted leaves. I thought it was near the end, when whoa!! A normal shoot started growing.Then another. By the end of summer, several canes were 8 feet long. This spring they bloomed.

If you'd like a rose that reminds you of your grandmother's legs every spring, you can order one from the Antique Rose Emporium. Or you can root a cutting or layer a lower branch of a friend's plant (it's easy). Meanwhile, I'll keep searching for the true blue rose and pricing a bathtub filled with Balvenie.