Buff beauty is a Hybrid musk rose introduced in 1939 in the United Kingdom by Ann Bentall. I ponder what it must have felt like to introduce such a beautiful garden rose and then live through the terrible years that followed.
Ann Bentall was married to John Bentall, and both were assistants to the Reverend Joseph Pemberton, a legendary rose hybridizer of the early 20th century. Joseph Pemberton created a class of roses, the hybrid musks. He introduced roses still grown today, such as Penelope, Robin Hood, and Danae. He is often credited with introducing Buff Beauty, but the cultivar was introduced in 1939, thirteen years after his death.
I remember the names of the past as real people who had dreams of their own.
We meet an elderly woman. We do not stop to think that this person was young and vibrant and dreamed her own dreams in her own time. So often we just see the age, and maybe the experience. I mention these things because even though Ann Bentall is long gone, Buff Beauty is a gentle reminder that she was here before us.
Joseph Pemberton and John Bentall labored in the fields together 100 years ago, and I am sure they felt cold and happy and probably despair at one time or another. I can picture them coming in from the cool, damp English countryside, perhaps into a place with a warm hearth. They felt the wet on their shirts and the warmth of the fire on their faces just as surely as we would today. They experienced the same things as us, just at a different time.
Joseph Pemberton had no children. His niece inherited his holdings and left the rose fields to John and Ann Bentall upon her death in 1944 (source: National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens). The Bentalls were subsequently forced to sell the property due to unprofitability and the roses were plowed under.
A hospice now occupies the space where Reverend Pemberton and the Bentalls developed the hybrid musk roses. Thankfully, St. Francis Hospice has reintroduced a collection of these roses to honor the historic nature of the roses bred there.
Culture and description of Rosa Buff Beauty
Grow Buff Beauty as a short climber or shrub. Buff Beauty has large apricot flowers with 40-50 petals. The color is unusual and the flowers age well. The fragrance is outstanding. Hybrid musk roses tend to flower in clusters from spring into fall and this holds true with Buff Beauty. Repeat flower throughout the season comes in flushes, with the most impressive being in spring.
Buff Beauty grows vigorously once established. Be patient the first year, as it may take Buff Beauty a while to get going. Almost all garden roses seem to get better with age and Buff Beauty is no exception. It will tolerate light shade. Disease resistance tends to be very good. Buff Beauty is not immune to blackspot but doesn’t tend to be extremely susceptible even in hot and humid places.
Canes are stiff and tend to play out in all directions. Train the canes when they are very young, and Buff Beauty is best laterally along a wall or fence. Not recommended as a pillar rose.
Scientific name: Rosa x ‘Buff Beauty’
Common name(s): Buff Beauty rose
Rose Class: Hybrid Musk
Year Introduced: 1939 (Bentall, U.K.)
Size: 3′ to 9′ feet tall
Bloom period: Remontant, flowers come in flushes throughout growing season.
Winter hardiness: 5b/6-10
Of note: Easy to grow. Not winter hardy in cold climates. One of the best of the hybrid musk rose class. Beautiful and elegant apricot color. Relatively disease free…may get blackspot in hot and humid climates, but can withstand without spraying.