Rosa 'Mutablis' planted in the San Marcos Growers garden.
One of our most interesting and popular roses. Although the true origins of
this plant have been lost it was originally sold under the fitting name of 'Tipo
Ideale'. This rose made its horticultural debut in 1934 when the Swiss botanist
Henri Correan introduced it, having obtained it from the Italian Prince
Ghilberto Borromeo. It is unknown whether the plant originated in China or was a
hybrid created in the prince's garden in Isola Bella. 'Mutabilis' beautifully
exhibits the characteristic China rose trait of the flowers darkening with age,
instead of fading. In 'Mutabilis', the tight orange buds open to reveal single
petaled flowers that are soft yellow on the inside and orange on the reverse. As
the flowers age they first darken first to orange then to pink and finally to a
coppery rose red. All of these colors will be on display on the plant which to
some looks like a group of butterflies nestled on the plant and hence the common
name Butterfly Rose. A well branching shrub with attractive bronzy new growth
that can reach 6 feet or more and is in flower for in Santa Barbara 12 months of
the year. Plant in a sheltered location. Our large shrub along the side of our
main office gets only half day sun and is a delight to those visiting the
nursery at any time of year. Winner of the Royal Horticultural Society Award of
Garden Merit in 1993, the same year we began growing this great rose. Hardy to zones 5-10.
David Austin in his book Shrub Roses and Climbing Roses says of
this rose: "Given a warm shelterd position near a wall [Rosa 'Mutabilis'] will form an 8
ft. shrub which will probably flower as constantly as any other rose. In a more
exposed position it is often quite small and frail in appearance."