June is the month for once blooming roses and one of the most charming is Leda, also known as Painted Damask, an Old Garden Rose of unknown origins that appeared in England around 1827. The romantic name "Leda" comes from Greek mythology: Leda was the Queen of Sparta and as a maiden was seduced by Zeus disguised as a swan. One of the children of that union between Leda and Zeus was the beautiful and disastrous Helen of Troy.
The rose Leda is considered to be once blooming in late spring or early summer but if pruned of old wood after flowering, this disease-resistant rose may produce the bonus of some autumn repeat according to one source. But even if there is no extended performance, it is worth the wait to enjoy the weeks of enchanting bloom. Produced in clusters, at first the buds are a deep, dark red but they open to full white blooms delicately edged with crimson with a button eye at center and a strong damask fragrance. The foliage is atypical for a damask rose, being rounded and dusky green, folded up along the midribs. Leda is a good choice for small gardens, as this tidy and compact rose reaches only 3 to 4 feet in height and 3 foot in width. Quite hardy to zone 4, it is also an excellent choice for northern growers and makes excellent cut bouquets.