The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

June 16, 2007

Hank n' Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 7:43 pm

Actually, it’s Henry, Henry Kelsey Climbing Roses.

Every year, without fail, these roses have put on a great show, as you can see by this photo taken a couple of days ago:

Henry Kelsey Climbing Roses (and me)

These roses are part of the “Explorer Series” of climbing roses developed in Canada, I think.

Apparently, Henry Kelsey was a famous individual who explored Canada, I don’t know the whole story.

The flowers are semi-double, deep red with yellow centers. They have a little fragrance, but not much.

Close-up Henry Kelsey Roses

They are described as “continuous bloomers” in some catalogs. Ours, however, after this first flush of blossoms, re-blooms very little…just a blossom here and there.

They also are resistant to powdery mildew and seem to be able to handle light infections of black spot (a fungus that infects rose leaves). I hardly ever spray these roses for fungus… once, maybe twice a season.

The catalogs describe them as growing to 6′ wide and 10′ feet high. The width sounds about right, but I measured ours and they were over 14′ tall and drooping at the top.

I used to wrap these roses for winter protection, but since they have gotten so large, I just let the fend for themselves for the winter. Henry Kelseys are plenty hardy, they can be planted as far north as zone 4.

This variety of rose doesn’t like a lot of pruning, so I tend to just let it go. I plan on doing a little pruning later on this fall or spring to stimulate some new growth which will help fill in the lower portion of the arbor.

We always de-head the roses after flowering, let me tell you that is a BIG job! We have to snip off each flower before it starts to form “hips” (small berry-like fruit). That is no easy task with the canes 14′ high and 50′ + feet of arbor! (the thorns are pretty picky too) Some folks will leave the hips on for the birds to eat. A lot of energy is expended by the plant in making all those hips, energy that may be used to produce more canes and flowers for next time.
I started these from tiny cuttings, not too much bigger than a pencil with a little bit of root on the end. Of course, I could have simply went to the nursery and bought them already growing in gallon pots. That would have saved me a season’s worth of growing, but we had such a large space to fill and we saved a few bucks doing it that way. It was a whole lot of fun for me too! :)

This excessive heat we have been having will hurry the blossoming along, it won’t be long until the roses are gone until next year.



  1. I grow all kinds of roses and some climbers are huge. I’m nursing a very old, old climber back to health that I had for years. It has salmon colored blossoms and is ever-blooming. It always deserved a huge fence, but only got part of deck railing. If it does come back, it will only make it to shrub status again. I thought it reverted to the stock English shrub rose but a few of the new shoots are looking very hybrid still. Sometimes they’ve just seen their heyday and must die like everything else, but this one is like an old friend, and I’ll keep trying to preserve it.

    I just wanted to let you know also, my lime tree is blooming!!! Yea. When you said try shocking it, I put it outside way too early this spring season and it went through that cold snap. It worked. Now if only I can get the tangerine tree to bloom. It was out there too early also but I still think it’s a little immature. I’m holding out hope for it after smelling those beautiful lime tree blossoms. It usually blooms again during the winter. Boy does my living room smell good between the jasmine vine, the lime tree, and my gardenia tree.

    Thanks again, my lime tree is blooming, my lime tree is blooming.

    Comment by Ria — June 18, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  2. Yay!! I knew you could do it! Limes are so much fun to grow.

    I know what you mean by keeping around those old plants, you just get so attached to them and can’t bear to part with them. Judy tells me that knowing when to discard them is all a part of good gardening. I still get sentimental sometimes though.

    Comment by Bob — June 18, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

  3. Henry Kelsey
    Encyclopædia Britannica Article

    born c. 1667, East Greenwich, near London—buried Nov. 2, 1724, East Greenwich

    British mariner and explorer of the Canadian plains who played a significant role in the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

    Kelsey was apprenticed to the Hudson’s Bay Company (chartered 1670) by 1684, and in a trip to the region begun that year he conducted some exploration along the west shore of Hudson Bay. In 1689 he journeyed with a small party to the Churchill River area. Kelsey became proficient in Indian languages, and in 1690 he headed a company venturing ever farther westward to promote trade with the Indians and got to the Saskatchewan River and beyond. That two-year venture is believed to have made him the first white man to explore Canada’s central plains. Twice, incursions by the French led to the capture of the western British outpost York Fort (now York Factory, Man.) while he was in the fort, and both times it was he who negotiated the surrender. For several years he was master of a frigate plying Hudson Bay in trade with the Indians. Kelsey was overseas governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1718 to 1722. He wrote portions of many of his reports in rhyme.

    Comment by Charlie Stratton — June 19, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

  4. …and now… we know the rest of the story…
    Thanks Charlie! You are “go to” guy for sure! No wonder they named such a prodigious rose after him. (Henry, not Charlie, although you never know…)
    I like that last line about writing parts of his reports in rhyme. :)

    Comment by Bob — June 20, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  5. Hi,

    Wow- what an impressive display this is!

    I am considering planting a Henry Kelsey, but I wanted to ask you about the color. I had been thinking this rose is a deep pinkish red, but your picture makes me wonder if the blooms are actually more of a purpley fucshia pink? i realize it’s hard to explain color, but I’d welcome any guidance you could provide.

    Also, I am a little disappointed to learn how big yours got, as my trellis is more like 4′ wide x 8′ tall. Any thoughts on why yours are so much taller than what the catalogs say?

    many thanks,

    Comment by Lizzie — August 3, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

  6. Hi Lizzy,
    I suggest you go ahead and plant that Henry Kelsey rose, if it looks like it is getting out of hand, you can always prune it back. Our roses may be a bit more vigorous because of all the care we took in preparing the bed ahead of time. Also, they get quite a bit of water and periodic fertilizer too. If I remember correctly, my wholesale catalog from Canada did describe these as pretty tall and vigorous. I talked to the grower as well and he agreed with the catalog description.
    Color-wise, Judy reminded me that people perceive reds differently. To me, these roses are more red than anything else with just a touch of pink.
    Best of luck to you,

    Comment by Bob — August 4, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

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