Harison’s Yellow

THE PAST

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

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 Church of the Intercession 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

Behind this beautiful 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.

THE PRESENT

Harison’s Yellow Spring 2012….

THE FUTURE

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.

17 thoughts on “Harison’s Yellow

    1. Thank you for this information. I love the Texas Tennessee connections because I have those connections myself. I will just have to get this rose.

  1. I have four roses in my garden that are related, what I think is the Harison, given by a friend who brought it with her from Oregon, a rosa foetida, a r.f. bicolor, and what I think is a r.f. persiana. The thing is I have seen both the first and the last labeled as the Harison yellow. One has a brighter yellow flower and doesn’t smell very good. The other has lighter yellow flowers and the flowers do smell good. The foliage of both smell like citrus.
    Can you tell me which is which?

    1. Or rose is a bright yellow. There is not much of a fragrance in the flower but it does smell faintly of honey. Our rose was a gift and those that gave it to us did not know it’s name. From our own research we have identified it as Harison’s Yellow and it matching those in my area that are called Harison’s Yellow. Do you have a picture of the rose with the pale yellow bloom?

      1. Sorry this has taken almost a year. I must not have marked the ‘notify me…’ box. I just happened to be looking and this came up again. I do have a picture. Is there a way I can send it to you? It looks similar to your picture.

  2. I just planted my first Harison rose. It is just less than 1 foot tall today. How much growth might you anticipate this first season – best case scenario.

  3. My mom has asked me to find a Harison’s rose for her upcoming 82nd birthday. Can someone help me with a supplier contact?

  4. Born in 1950, I grew up in south central South Dakota. There were three or four Harison yellows on our farm. My grandmother planted everything and whatever survived was certified by her as growable there! LOL. In the 1950s & 60s she had many roses grown in near synthetic settings. We dug 5′ deep trenches half filled them with garbage then filled back up with amended topsoil. The “pretty” roses were always pruned back to 2′ and covered with 3′ of straw over the winter. The Harison roses were just grown in the fencerows and not cared for other than pruning them back to maintain their size. Nothing but man can kill one once it is established. I remember planting an acorn she got from her sister in Iowa when I was 4, I just visited it three weeks ago, It is about 50′ now. Will outlive me easily! it is only 61 yrs young. It’s parents were planted by my ancestors in the 1880s and are all hugely alive, visited them about 7 years ago just outside Ames, Ia.
    Michael J
    Ft Lupton, Co

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for sharing your story! Isn’t it remarkable how hardy this rose is and I love how it weaves into your family’s story. 50′ my my — it is happy where it is! What a great heritage of roses! Wish I could have met your grandmother!

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