Sterling Silver and thoughts on blue...

Anybody know where to get a good, disease-free Sterling Silver?

With all the talk recently about rosacyanins and so on, I’ve decided to give some attention to an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed. Some roses, while quite definitely red, I see as blue as well. It’s not that I actually see the blue, it’s… well, the only way I can describe it is that it’s the same sensation one gets when one looks at a white mercury-vapor lamp and knows somehow that the light is green and purple. I’ve noticed this very strongly with La Belle Sultane and the mysterious Fort Pella Purple, especially when blooms of both are under fluorescent light. I can’t get Fort Pella Purple to set hips, alas, but I’ve got literally dozens of seedlings of La Belle Sultane this year, and am dusting off my old spectroscope in a hope to ascertain whether I’m seeing something real or just hallucinating as usual.

How Sterling Silver comes into this is that of all the “blue” roses I’ve ever seen, Sterling Silver is by far the one which gives me the most definite sensation of blue. Alas I haven’t seen it in many years so I can’t compare it to the other two, now that I have an actual lead (and a spectroscope!). I’d like to get one to compare, but all I can find are department store bare-roots. Any ideas?


Vintage Gardens purportedly carries a superior or VID version of Sterling Silver.

For all the bad press Sterling Silver receives it always did great for me. Mine came from chain store body bags though I also grew it long ago. The Vintage version is likely much superior. Mine have always been budded. I only removed my Sterling Silver in 2007. As I often do I gave it a parting shot at parenthood. It’s very fertile both for seed and pollen. I still have some seedlings here from those experiments. Considering I only gave it one opportunity at reproduction I can assure you there is plenty of life in the old girl yet.

Of course you will have to get past the disease issues which I have relatively nil.

There is some good information under the comments section at HMF.


Thanks, Robert, just ordered one from Vintage. Will keep my eye out for bare-roots though, too; alas the last one I bought had rmv.

Sterling Silver has been a favorite of mine since it was introduced; I remember seeing it announced in the J&P catalog and begging my grandmother to buy it for me, and then being miserable when it bloomed for the first time and it wasn’t cobalt blue! But still, that color is the finest of its kind I’ve ever seen, and the fragrance alone is worth a plant!

And curiously enough, I’ve just remembered, I get the same “impression” of blue from Stainless Steel, which, alas, did not survive its first winter in my garden. Maybe I should give it another chance.

Hi Fara,

In my opinion, you should absolutely give ‘Stainless Steel’ another chance. It is fragrant and way more vigorous than ‘Sterling Silver’, and is fertile both ways. I still use it.

Jim Sproul

Blue Skies is slightly more “blue” than Sterling Silver is.

I prefer Lagerfeld far and beyond over Sterling Silver or Stainless Steel, but that’s me.

Sweetness is coming out now. I’m going to buy it, but it isnt a straight lavender. It’s a blend. shrug

I liked your interesting thoughts on blue, Fara. Could part of the effect be from the flicker of the fluorescents, or is the hue of the light itself eliciting fluorescence in some pigment? Try a compact fluorescent which is solid state and doesn’t have the 60 cycle flicker. Also, have you checked your color perception? There are recent reports of some people having an additional color detection cone system, and many women see color shades that men have trouble learning to see. And as a ceramicist you may have a more educated eye.

If you could get an old fashioned spectrophotometer, you could let the light as it passes through the system (with the detector taken off),shine onto a piece of paper and record your perception of it. I’ve done that to see how far into the UV I can see, and the exact wavelength of what I see as various shades of blue, green and yellow. I guess your spectroscope will do sort of the same thing.

Hi Fara,

somehow that the light is green and purple…especially when blooms of both are under fluorescent light.

What you are seeing is a pigment named rosafluene. It does, indeed, glow under flourescent light. The radiated color is pretty much the same as the reflective color of another important rose pigment, cyanidin. In my article “Fun with color” in the current edition of the newsletter I provide a color chart for all the rose pigments. For rosafluene see swatch #33:

Jadae, thanks for the tip on Blue Skies, I’ll look out for it.

Larry, you’re not the first person to suggest I have my eyes examined for color! I know my vision is somewhat skewed; I seem to be able to see many more shades of blue than most folks and fewer shades of red. I’ve gotten into arguments over whether the light from sodium vapor lamps is yellow or pink (definitely pink, to me).

Spectrophotometer! Great idea, I’ll look for one!

Don, Most interesting! What I see as the “blue” comes from both fluorescent and “natural color” incandescents. And the color your rosafluene sample shows on my monitor is exactly the color that the Fort Pella Purple turns after it is a few days old (it starts out somewhat redder). Also reminds me strongly of Veilchenblau. Can’t wait to see your article!


Interesting, interesting. Agree that being trained in art, your perception would be more finely tuned, your eye AND your brain. My sister is a trained artist and though I am somewhat artistic in ability, she sees and perceives things I don’t. Since my early thirties, I discovered that if I look out of one eye, white is whiter and with the other eye it looks more like a very light tea. Asked my eye doctor and he didn’t have an answer. In very early stages of cataracts now but in seventies,expected, but too young for it then.

Don, looking forward to your article; the sample seems to have more pink in it than my veilchenblau.

Lots of food for thought here; thank you all.

Jim Provenzano