Currently, there are about two dozen Explorer roses on the market, and I’ve grown about 10 of them. In spring 2002, I planted three of the relatively new ‘A.C. William Booth’ in Canadian Zone 7 (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario). Some catalogues describe him as a sprawler, others a climber. With arching, flexible canes of about five feet (1.5 metres), either use is fine. My aim was to create a dramatic groundcover in front of a beech tree and corylopsis.
The five-petalled single blooms on ‘A.C. William Booth’ are a rich, luscious lipstick-pink with a hint of coral. The plentiful blooms had little fragrance, but were much loved by bees — the canes bobbed up and down as the bees jostled for position on the flowers’ prominent gold stamens. What also made this a standout rose was its great autumn leaf colour — a coppery orange — accompanied by large, burnished orange hips. I’m not expecting any die-back after this winter. After all, it is an Explorer rose — a series bred to withstand Canada’s winters.
Don’t tangle with ‘A. C. William Booth’ — the thick canes have large thorns, which makes me think allowing the shrubs to sprawl is a better option than wrestling them on to a trellis.
Some history: This rose became available in 2000. Named for the founder of the Salvation Army. Ancestors (the rose’s not the evangelist’s) include Rosa kordesii, the floribunda ‘Arthur Bell’ and the shrub rose ‘Applejack’. Resistant to blackspot and powdery mildew.