Mr. Harison: Past … Present … Future


About 25 years ago my obsession with the Harison’s Yellow rose began when a friend in Tennessee gave my husband a cutting of a rose that had been passed through their family for generations.

We were young gardeners and weren’t quite sure what to do to ensure Mr. Harison got a good start in our newly planted rose garden.

Mr. G’s grandmother was in her 80’s at this time and had always had beautiful gardens. She had a lot of great advice for us on many things especially on all things gardening!

So, we asked her what to do with the cutting. (See her advice below.)

Harrison's Yellow in my garden ... Spring 2013
Harrison’s Yellow in my garden … Spring 2013
Harison’s Yellow … One of the first to bloom in the spring.

About Mr. Harison

George Folliott Harison, a NYC attorney, created this rose in his Manhattan garden in the 1830s. The planting is now a part of the Heritage Rose District of NYC.

About the Harison’s Yellow Rose

The nurseryman William Prince of Long Island took cuttings and marketed the rose in 1830.

Harison’s Yellow is also known as the Oregon Trail Rose and the Yellow Rose of Texas. This beauty was lovingly taken by pioneer women across the wilderness to their new homes in the west … packed away with other valuables, tender cuttings and roots were stowed in buckets, rooted in potatoes and even in tea cups. I have heard Harison’s Yellow can be found all along the pioneer trail. Don’t you just love that! Roses are true survivors!

Coming Full Circle

Last week while visiting my daughter in NYC we toured the lovely courtyard garden at the Church of the Intercession at the invitation of Stephen Scanniello, (Heritage Rose Foundation).

The garden is filled with lovely old roses in a picturesque setting. 

Hybrid musk roses filled the air with intoxicating old rose fragrance!

Champney’s Pink Noisette

In the back of the church is a graveyard and … guess who is buried there? Yes, it is true, Mr. Harison is buried there… As I stood in front of his gravestone, I felt as though he was a member of my family. The gravestone says he was a gentlemen. I love that … and I sure hope he knows how much I love his rose and that I am committed to sharing it with others.

This graveyard is peppered with beautiful stones, fences, gates, flowers and roses.  And is also home to the grave site of John James Audubon, the French-American ornithologist, naturalist and painter.


Harison’s Yellow Spring 2012….


The Story Continues

This weekend we are taking cuttings from our Harison’s Yellow rose. Hopefully this will be a rose that is passed through our generations.

We have learned a lot since we took that first cutting, but I’m still gonna assign Mr. G the task of watcher and waterer. He did such a great job before! 🙂

Grandma’s Advice

Grandma Levis told us to take a small piece of the cutting and cut an X in the end of the stem, dip in root tone, plant in a small pot and cover the pot with a ball jar. Watch it closely and keep moist but not wet. And wait.

Yes, some things are worth waiting for, worth preserving and worth passing on.


28 thoughts on “Mr. Harison: Past … Present … Future

  1. I really enjoyed this “love story” of a pioneer’s rose. It is lovely, and I am so glad you are helping its story continue. There’s a tiny yellow rose that volunteered itself along a rose covered fence of mine. It just had one flower this year and last – but I am urging it along.
    ~ Wendy

      1. I don’t know the name, as it just showed up. The picture I took of it makes it look butter color – but it is yellow. The leaves were really waxy and dark green & small. When I eventually do a post with it in I’ll let you know.

        ~ Wendy

  2. I just loved this story, the history, the beautiful church, and now that I know this special Harison’s Yellow is also the Oregon Trail Rose, well, I want one badly. But I only confess this in hushed tones lest the deer hear me and chuckle. I love the way Mr. Harison in your garden reaches out for a little squeeze from Ms. Clematis. I also love Grandma’s advice. I see her in my imagination, her wisdom, and the pioneer woman’s cutting in a tea cup. Precious story. Thanks for making my day. Happy gardening.

  3. Great to hear that gardeners are still passing this wonderful rose from generation to generation. We have several planted in Harlem, one is very near Mr. Harison’s grave (Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, Broadway between 155 -153rd streets).

  4. Thank you for this post. With it you contribute to my knowledge, joy, and well-being! 🙂 I’m going to get propagating some more of my grandmother’s rose, which came from her mother. God bless…

    1. Well, thank you so much for telling me. I want to see you Grandmother’s rose!! So glad you are going to take cuttings of this special rose! Love sharing the history of roses and stories of people and roses. My own love affair with roses started as a gift of a hand-picked bokay given to me when I was a teenager! Hugs!

  5. Love your blog! Saw the link on American Rose Society Facebook. I love old garden roses and have a Facebook page called Antique Roses where I share my roses and others from around the world.

  6. Thank you for the post on Harrison’s Yellow. Old vines can sometimes be found in and around mining sites of the California gold rush.

      1. They are reputed to exist in Mother Lode mining region of the Sierra Foothills. This has been referenced in early editions of the Sunset Western Garden Book. I believe I have seen one in the Malakoff Diggings State Park. Would love to have that verified and/or obtain a cutting!

          1. I have been curious about the Harison’s Yellow for years, and would love to identify more sites. Would you mind if I posted a brief query on my site for anyone who has seen one, and link to your article?

            Just today I spotted an old white rose at the 4100 ft. elevation…

  7. Love the Harison Yellow. I’ve been looking for a good yellow to mix with my antique garden roses. Is the rose everblooming or just once blooming? Is it a china rose? Do you think it would do okay in the humid deep south? Thanks.

    1. Harison’s Yellow is once blooming and one of the first to bloom in my garden. It dates back to the 1830s so would be great in a garden of OGRs. I am in Zone 5b and don’t know anyone in the Deep South that grows this rose but have read it is good to Zone 7. Good luck with your garden!

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