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Basye’s Blueberry Rose

Basye’s Blueberry rose was introduced in 1982. Clear pink semi-double flowers with yellow stamens are produced in May in the South. Basye’s Blueberry is largely disease resistant. In addition, it is virtually thornless. Fall color is outstanding, reminiscent of a blueberry shrub’s fall color.

The fragrance is considered good to excellent, and it grows five to eight feet tall. Spread is to five feet. Growth habit is somewhat upright and open. It was developed by Dr. Robert Basye, who also introduced Belinda’s Dream.

Baseye's Blueberry rose
Basye’s Blueberry rose

Dr. Basye, a retired mathematics professor at Texas A&M, bred roses for 50 years. One of his primary goals was the development of blackspot resistant roses. Thornlessness and cold hardiness were also goals of his breeding program.

It is cold hardy to Zone 5 at least. There are reports of cold hardiness to Zone 3b, but I live in Georgia so I’ve no direct experience with this issue. It is important to buy own-root roses in northern zones. If the roots survive winter, new growth in spring will be true to the rose as sold rather than the original grafted rootstock. With most of these older varieties you are going to receive own-root but confirm with the vendor before purchasing.

Like many of the old roses, it blooms with a flush in spring. You may get a flower or two throughout the rest of the season but the big show is over by summer.

Basye’s Blueberry and Commander Gillette are (likely) not the same.

The reason I included the (likely) comment to the sentence above is that there have been suggestions even Dr. Basye was unclear regarding these two cultivars. Rosarians have disagreed on this issue, but I believe it comes down to the flower form to decide…

Basye’s Blueberry is a hybrid of a somewhat complex cross-breeding program which included a hybrid of Rosa virginiana (R. virginiana alba x Commander Gillette). Rosa virginiana, common name Virginia rose, is a species rose native to eastern North America. Rosa virginiana is most likely the reason Basye’s Blueberry exhibits such good fall color and disease resistance.

Commander Gillette is often identified online as a synonym for Basye’s Blueberry but evidence suggests this is not true. Commander Gillette is a single-form rose with five petals. Basye’s Blueberry is semi-double. I would not purchase Basye’s Beauty unless I’d seen semi-double blooms either in person or in photographs from the vendor.

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