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By Francesca Filanc, for Let’s Talk Plants! May 2022.

Lady Banks Rose has been grown for 2,000 years in gardens in China. It has no thorns, and it has no suckers. It grows on its own roots. In other words, it is not grafted. It was named for the wife of the head of Kew Gardens in the late 1800s. When I first moved to my current property six years ago, I started designing garden rooms. After I had the pergola built leading to the front door for wisteria to grow; I had an arbor built down by the street. The arbor was designed with two benches for my grandchildren to sit and play in the garden.

Francesca Filanc.
Pat Welsh, the author's mother and SDHS Horticulturist of the Year alumnus, enjoying Francesca Filanc's Lady Banks roses and garden.

Lady Banks rose is the only thornless rose. It is perfect for growing over an arbor to welcome people into the garden. Lady Banks rose arrived in England in 1807 from China thanks to William Kerr, a plant hunter sent by Sir Joseph Banks who directed London's Kew Gardens. Kerr, for whom the flowering shrub Kerria is named, introduced 238 plants to cultivation in the West but did so mainly by purchasing plants from Chinese nurseries.

Four yellow Lady Banks roses were planted here in 2018 and now they totally cover the arbor beautifully. This year was a showstopper of blooms. Lady Banks comes in white and yellow. My gardener planted the white one at a previous home on either side of a short wooden fence that he built welcoming people down to the horses. I wanted Lady Banks in that spot so that people could brush up against the rose without getting hurt from thorns as they walked up and down the path to our house.

Yellow is such a happy color and yellow roses signify friendship. The perfect rose to welcome people into the garden.

Cut Rosa banksiae back lightly right after bloom to stimulate another, though lighter wave of bloom. Next month, in June, cut mature specimens back hard to produce new wood that will grow during the summer and bloom next year. (Never prune this rose in winter or you’ll have no spring bloom.” - Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening

The garden is full of blooms of all the different varieties of roses and varying species of flowering shrubs and trees. A bottlebrush tree is blooming profusely and attracting hummingbirds and other birds to its rich red colored blossoms.

Francesca Filanc.
One of the author's dogs, Prince, enjoying the Lady Banks rose covered arbor.

Recently I have been blessed with all of my family here from Spain and San Francisco. The grandchildren are growing up, but they still love to sit and visit on the pergola benches and throughout the garden. The culinary lavenders have become huge and the gardeners just recently trimmed them back to make room to walk through on the paths. The garden is changing. It has more of a wild look but is still beautiful and the birds, butterflies and lizards are loving the privacy it affords. Painting, ‘Muse of Africa’, commission in process.

Happy Gardening!

- Francesca Filanc


Francesca Filanc

Artist, author, photographer, fly-fisher woman, Francesca Filanc grew up in old Del Mar and these days lives, paints and gardens in historic Olivenhain with two French poodles.

Find her art and writings here:

She can be found on social media here:

Have gardening questions or want to learn more about Francie’s art? Contact:


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