I’ve finally solved the mystery of the rose, planted by the previous owner of my house, that stands out from the crowd thanks to its divine fragrance. Until today I didn’t know its name. But now I do, thanks to my local gardening facebook group “All things gardening- Mudgee, Kandos and Rylstone”: it’s Blue Moon.
Lovely Blue Moon in my garden
I’ve also discovered that Blue Moon is a celebrated and beloved rose, not only for its heavenly, super-sweet, slightly spicy scent that can be smelled from a distance, but for other qualities as well.
I’ve found the rare colour of its blooms described prosaically- “bluish mauve” and “pale lilac”, and poetically- “soft lilac”, “silvery lavender”, and “violet changing to silvery-lilac when in full bloom”. I agree with all these descriptions.
The flowers are large, fully double, in classic rose shape, with high centres and packed with up to 40 petals. Opening from pointed buds borne on long, almost thornless stems, and with deep green glossy leaves, it’s perfect for cutting.
Blue Moon’s superlative fragrance has brought it to the attention of perfumiers, and has sparked creativity. In 2009, Shiseido Research Institution identified yuzu, lactone, 2-isopropyl and 4-methylthiazole as the fragrant components of Blue Moon’s scent. Swedish jewellery designer Efva Attling’s perfume, Rose Petals, was inspired by the Blue Moon rose growing in her garden.
Originally bred in Germany and introduced in 1964, Blue Moon is a hybrid tea rose. It blooms in flushes from spring to autumn, and is an upright bushy shrub ideal for sunny spots, borders or containers. It prefers warmer climates, and grows up to 90cm tall and wide. In my garden, it’s one of the first to flower in spring and one of the last to finish in early winter.
Illustration of the “Blue Moon” rose, from Roses – A Concise Guide in Colour.
I’ve read that this rose looks fabulous paired with white Iceberg roses.
Blue Moon should be pruned during the spring. Old canes must cut back by about 1/2, more in cold areas. Diseased or dead wood must be removed.
One last thing- I’ve discovered another colour in Blue Moon’s pallette. Not long after the first frost, a couple of months ago, I cut the last remaining bud from my Blue Moon, and it’s been in a vase in my living room since then. I’ve watched its colour slowly evolve from “pale lilac” to a soft, dusky pink. Up close, the fragrance remains surprisingly fresh and intense, even as the petals fall. I like to imagine it will last until the new buds of spring arrive, but that’s probably wishful thinking. It will come close, though.
Winter sun warms my Blue Moon bud.
What’s your favourite rose?
Roses – A Concise Guide in Colour, by Ludvík Večeřa, illustrated by Jiřina Kaplická, translated by Olga Kuthanová. Published by Artia for Hamlyn Ltd., London, 1971, p. 138. Out of print.]