Saving ‘Lady Banks’

Several years ago our neighbors put their home on the market as they had decided to build a new one. Fred & Jane were the best of folks and always kept their garden in pristine condition. She was always willing to share cuttings and we had many good talks about the garden and plants in general. Around the lamp-post in their front yard was a large planting of iris and wrapped around the lamp-post itself was a beautiful ‘Lady Banks’ (R. banksiae lutea) rose. Its beautiful yellow blossoms  joined with daffodils and forsythia each year to herald the arrival of spring on our lane.

Not long after Fred & Jane moved, our new neighbor moved in. Don’t misunderstand me, our neighbor is a great guy. He has a heart of gold and is one of the nicest people I know. He will readily admit though, that he is not a gardener. I went out early one Saturday morning after he moved in. Lawn mowers and weed wackers were buzzing around the neighborhood and I saw him busily working in his yard. Then i noticed that he had just cut that lovely Lady banks rose to the ground with the weed wacker!  I struck up a conversation with him and in due course explained that the plant he had just hacked to ground zero level was indeed a species rose that if left to its own devices would once again reign supreme over his lamp-post….. We laughed and he said he would leave it alone. I told him that being a species rose that it only blooms on previous years growth, so he would now have to wait two years for blooms…

This morning I went out to get the paper and to my great delight saw the first blooms on this rescued rose ever so gently creeping its way up around the lamp-post again.

What’s that saying, “God is in His heaven, Jesus is on the throne, and the Lady Banks rose is once again heralding springtime on the lane… All is right with the world….”


About Chris VanCleave - America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Christopher R. VanCleave – America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at and on his popular website;, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years’ experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticultural societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.
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14 Responses to Saving ‘Lady Banks’

  1. Kylee Baumle says:

    Yay! Two-and-a-half years ago, I was given a cutting of the Lady Banks rose in Tombstone, AZ (World’s Largest). I planted it in the ground in my conservatory last spring and this winter, it went NUTS! I’m hoping for blooms this spring. I think this one blooms in white, though.


    • The white version is such a beauty. Our botanical garden has a huge pergola that stretches the length of the formal rose garden and is a blaze each spring with these roses. I have read about the Lady Banks in Tombstone, i’m sure its a marvel to behold..


  2. What a great story about rebirth.


  3. Holleygarden says:

    How nice that you explained LB’s habits to him. He probably didn’t realize she was a rose. Now that you’ve talked about her, I bet he watches for her blooms every spring from now on – and asks you for gardening advice! Good going!


  4. What a beauty she is. So glad you saved her. Well done Rose Friend. With your encouragement and the lovely Lady Banks, he may become a gardener yet!


  5. Janice says:

    Nice to see your garden is springing to life!


  6. debsgarden says:

    Your neighbor is wise to listen to your words! Sometimes I have to bite my tongue to keep from giving unsolicited advice to a neighbor who does everything wrong, including digging up hosta professionally installed by the previous owner. If I had known they were going to throw them away, I would have grabbed them. They also topped some gorgeous oak trees, which of course died three years later. The fact is, a lot of people don’t know or care much about gardening.

    P.S. I’m glad to hear your first rose bloomed! I’m wondering if it’s possible we could still have a freeze!


  7. Lara says:

    Lady Banks is one of those roses that I dream about being able to grow someday! What a wonderful story…so glad that she is making her return.


  8. Sweet story Chris. I love it!


  9. Lynn says:

    I’m so glad I read this. I had trimmed it in the past and wondered why it never seemed to grow as big as I’ve seen in photos. Was about to trim it again when I read your post. No cutting of the LB now.


  10. Pingback: Saving 'Lady Banks' | The Redneck Rosarian | Garden Roses |

  11. Pingback: Saving ‘Lady Banks’ | Natural Soil Nutrients |

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