Posted-By: auto-faq 220.127.116.11
Last-modified: 7 March 1995
rec.gardens.roses FAQ, part 4/6
Advisor" (FAQ originally compiled October-November, 1994.)
See part 1 of the FAQ for more information about this document.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction and General History
2. Gallica Roses
3. Alba Roses
4. Damask Roses
5. Centifolia/Moss/Pompon Roses
6. Agathe Roses
7. Turbinata Roses
8. Rubiginosa and Canina Roses
9. Hemispherica Roses
10. Foetida Roses
11. Pimpinellifolia Roses
12. Boursault Roses
13. Sempervirens Roses
14. Setigera Roses
15. Wichuraiana Roses
16. Multiflora Roses
17. Damask Perpetual Roses
18. China Roses
19. Tea Roses
20. Bourbon Roses
21. Noisette Roses
22. Hybrid China/Hybrid Bourbon/Hybrid Noisette Roses
23. Hybrid Perpetual Roses
24. Old Hybrid Tea Roses
25. Pernetiana Roses
26. Mossy Remontant Roses
27. Polyantha Roses
28. Rugosa Roses
29. Miscellaneous Roses
30. "Middle-Aged" Roses
31. Current Questions/Activities in Old Roses
* Introduction and General History.
The Hybrid Tea Roses, accompanied at length by the Floribunda and
Grandiflora Roses so influenced by them, have been at the fore of rose
progress for about a century now--so long that its forebears and
predecessors have become, to many rosarians, mere footnotes rather
than what they should be, valid candidates for equal interest.
The modern "English Roses" by David Austin (modeled on the past;
covered in another FAQ) and the ever-increasing groundswell of
interest in old roses proper perhaps make it desirable for all
rosarian netlings to gain some quick familiarity with the heritage of
the rose. We therefore present the following thumbnail notes as
something of a starting point, hoping that wiser heads will supply the
necessary corrections or variant information, and hoping as well that
those interested in more detail will check out the many fine books
which deal with this at greater length. Some of these books are listed
at the end of this FAQ.
Various wild roses grow throughout the Northern Hemisphere in sites
ranging from riparian and swampy all the way to those of the desert.
Two geographical groupings which, at first, developed separately, have
had--both in their separation and in their ultimate combination--the
greatest importance in rose history: The European/Mediterranean group
of species and their hybrids, and the Oriental group of species and
The European roses are primarily the following: Gallicas, Albas,
Damasks, Damask Perpetuals, Centifolias, and Mosses. The mainstream
Oriental groups are Chinas and Teas. The European sorts--with one
important exception--have only one season of bloom per year, while the
Orientals repeat bloom more or less continuously.
The European/Mediterranean roses or their forebears have been grown
and loved since the earliest days of history (and no doubt before).
Wreaths of Damask-like roses have been found in Egyptian tombs;
seemingly the same rose--called at one time "Rosa sancta" (the Holy
Rose)--has been grown down to our own days in holy places in eastern
Africa. Frescoes painted during the heyday of the Minoan culture on
Crete show roses. The festivals both sacred and profane of the
classical Greeks included roses, and did those of the Romans. During
the Roman era, a repeat-blooming variant of the Damask rose evidently
appeared, the first member of a group which came to be called "Damask
Perpetuals." The Romans were so sophisticated that they developed a
hot-house technology which allowed them to "force" roses into more
bloom; they also imported roses from Egypt. The roses of these most
ancient times in Europe and the Mediterranean were seemingly the
Damasks, the Albas, and the Gallicas.
During the Middle Ages, these roses retained a certain religious use,
not only as decorations and adjuncts to (now Christian) holy
festivals, but also as denizens of the medicinal gardens. Their
medicinal associations as well as the simple human delight in their
fragrance brought about the distillation-of-rose-essence industry,
which still has local importance in a few areas of Europe (formerly
France, now primarily Bulgaria).
With the end of the Middle Ages and the rise of the merchant class,
commerce in horticultural material began to flourish. Due to their
fleet of trading ships and the peculiarities of their geography, the
Netherlands became (and continue) a great center of horticultural
business. Alongside their trade in Tulips, Hyacinths, Carnations, and
the like, came something new in Occidental rose progress: systematic
growing of roses from seed (previously, roses had primarily been
propagated from cuttings, suckers, runners, and possibly to a small
degree by grafts). This opened up the possibility inherent in ***
reproduction: Variation. One of the great holes in knowledge of rose
history concerns what roses they used in this, and how they went about
it--but, at any rate, whereas previously only some tens of rose
cultivars existed, now, in the period up to about 1810, one or two
hundred became available, indeed a whole new group, the Centifolias,
arising from the complex and possibly arbitrary breeding of the Dutch.
Around 1800, the French became interested in roses and the rose
industry. This interest was fueled by the French Empress Josephine,
who surrounded herself with adepts in all fields of interest to
her--one was Botany--while she consoled herself at the palace of
Malmaison over her divorce from her beloved Napoleon. At this palace,
she collected all the available sorts of roses, and encouraged the
breeding and hybridizing of new ones. Spurred by this imperial
patronage, several French breeders--notably Dupont and Descemet--went
to work with a vengeance, developing several hundred new cultivars in
the European groups (Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, Centifolias . . . ).
Descemet indeed very carefully kept notes of the results of particular
crosses, and may be said to have been the first in the West to have
practiced controlled cross-breeding. We must turn, however, to the
Orient for a moment, leaving Europe in the throes of Napoleonic war
and rose-breeding. There is alas little information on Oriental--or,
more specifically, Chinese--rose breeding. One finds indications that
roses were favored, though perhaps not to the extent that the Peony,
the Chrysanthemum, or the Camellia were. What is important to note,
however, is that by the period 1750-1824, four cultivars in
particular--often called today (rather rustically) "The Four Stud
Chinas"--had been developed. Two were true China roses, one pink, one
red. Two were Tea roses, one blush, one yellowish. These were
continuous-blooming, as the Oriental roses were, but not hardy, and
their introduction into the Occident at length completely
revolutionized rose progress.
The French, though their Emperor had fallen and Josephine was dead,
continued their efforts with both the old material and now with the
new. Due to political problems, Descemet had to flee France, but an
ex-soldier of Napoleon's army, wounded in Italy, now prosperous as a
hardware-shop owner, indulged his interest in roses and bought what
remained of Descemet's nursery and breeding notes after the site of
the nursery was sacked by invading English troops. This was
Jean-Pierre Vibert, whose intelligence and industriousness working
from 1816-1850 had a lasting influence on the French rose industry.
The crosses with the new material were made as work continued in all
groups of roses. Never before the 1820's had such a diversity of
disparate roses been available--and never since. Almost every
available species, no matter how obscure, had varieties and
subvarieties of varying color or form due to breeding or sports. A
sport of the Centifolia, the Moss Rose, had appeared a few decades
before, and now began to spread its unique array of cultivars over the
rose scene as the breeders worked with it.
As the 1820's became the 1830's, however, interest was concentrated on
the breeding between the Oriental roses and the Europeans. Due to the
laws of genetics, the first progeny of crosses between once-bloomers
and repeat-bloomers were once-blooming. As they were crossed with each
other, however, and then back to the Chinas and Teas, repeat-blooming
hybrids began to appear. These were crossed with Damask Perpetuals.
The 1830's were a time of ferment and experimentation with these.
Meantime, on an island in the Indian Ocean (though there is some
debate about this), a new cross between a China and a Damask Perpetual
appeared. This was the Bourbon Rose. Its appearance at this time made
it a part of the breeding going on primarily in France (though efforts
were also underway in England).
The outcome of all these crosses jelled in the 1840's into the group
called "Hybrid Perpetuals"--a name which implied to the people of the
time "Damask Perpetuals which have been hybridized with Other Sorts."
This group, taking in cultivars of all colors and forms, and (best of
all to the people of the era) at least somewhat re-blooming and hardy,
overwhelmed almost all the other groups. Interest in the old European
sorts waned; they were gradually set aside, kept mainly as sentimental
remembrances of the past by a few devotees.
The idea of rose shows and competitions was on the rise at this time.
These events began for better or worse to standardize the concept of
what a rose blossom should look like, and made many concentrate on the
rose as a producer of exhibition items rather than a decorative plant
for the garden.
Breeding experimentation continued. The original, rather
weakly-growing, Teas were crossed with Bourbons to make a new, robust
sort of Tea. As the search to widen the range of Hybrid Perpetuals
continued, they were crossed with the Teas producing a group which
came to be known as Hybrid Teas. Efforts along these lines really got
underway seriously in the 1870's, though there had been a few earlier
such crosses as well.
But, still experimentation continued. A strong yellow rose was wanted.
The Teas had light yellows among their number, but these had a
tendency to fade, and the plants were not as robust as people had
become accustomed to from the Hybrid Perpetuals. A deep yellow
species, R. foetida, had been used to produce a Tea 'Ma Capucine' by
the breeder Levet in 1871, but the plant was weak-growing,
discouraging further work. In the 1890's, Pernet-Ducher turned to the
problem, and, after a long series of experiments with Teas, Hybrid
Teas, Hybrid Perpetuals, and (finally) R. foetida, produced offspring
around 1900 from a cross of the HP 'Antoine Ducher' and R. foetida
which had a yellow/gold/c***tone that seemed to promise much.
Further developments from this cross were called "Pernetianas," and at
length they were combined with the original Hybrid Teas to produce
what might be called "Hybrid Hybrid Teas"--the Hybrid Teas of today.
* Gallica Roses.
These are selections bred from the "French Rose," R. gallica. A
Gallica will typically have a stocky plant, an open blossom which
shows the stamens and is held upright, usually in colors varying on
one side or the other from rose-red. Variations, however, are almost
limitless as well as subtle, and all degrees of height and blossom may
be found, from near singles to full doubles, from blush pinks to
maroon, from clear homogeneous colors to cloudy, striped, and/or
spotted blossoms. The plants are easily propagated by their runners or
suckers when on their own roots. Some examples are 'D'Aguesseau',
'Camaieux', `Tuscany', 'Versicolor'.
* Alba Roses.
As is so often the case with roses, the precise origin of the Alba
group is much debated; possibly R. canina x R. damascena, or R.
corymbifera x R. gallica, or . . . ? Albas typically make large,
healthy shrubs with fragrant white or light pink blossoms, usually in
few-flowered clusters. They have particular associations with the
Middle Ages and castle gardens. 'Great Maiden's Blush', `Semiplena',
`Jeanne d'Arc', `Konigin von Danemark', `Pompon Blanc Parfait'.
* Damask Roses.
Damask Roses are supposed to be from a hybridization between R.
gallica and R. phoenicia which occurred in Asia Minor and became
distributed throughout Syria and the Near East and Middle East
generally. The Crusaders--according to tradition--brought it back to
Europe from Damascus (hence the name) in 1254. However, there is a
most daunting and seemingly impenetrable fog around R. damascena.
References can be found to "the common Damask" as late as the 1820's,
and yet what an author is referring to by this term remains elusive.
It indeed frequently seems that "the Common Damask" is rather a Damask
Perpetual! Worse, cultivars which we today consider as defining the
group--`Leda', perhaps, and 'Mme. Hardy'--seem to have been hybrids.
'Celsiana', a most beautiful and popular rose, is possibly "typical"
Damask; and yet, even it has its mystery (current research seems to
indicate that the "pre-1750" date usually put forward is whimsical).
Even 'York and Lancaster', frequently considered to be a sport of the
original (red?) Damask, is supposed by one authority to be an Alba on
the basis of a sporting back to something like the Alba 'Semiplena'!
The cultivar used for the rose oil industry in Bulgaria,
`Trigintipetala', supposedly a long-ago import from Turkey, is perhaps
dependably R. damascena . . . . That said, characteristics associated
with our concept of what a Damask should look like are: upright
frequently arching canes, grayish-green somewhat rugose somewhat
hirsute leaves, large fragrant blossoms in few-flowered clusters,
delicate in appearance, and ranging in color from white to deep pink
depending on the cultivar. 'Ville de Bruxelles', `Celsiana', `Mme.
Hardy', 'Mme. Zoetmans', 'Kazanlyk'.
* Centifolia Roses.
The genetic background of the much-beloved Centifolia roses is also
much debated. Some have reported wild Centifolias from various sites
in Europe and Asia, others try to piece together mosaics of species to
make the Centifolia a complex hybrid. They were much featured in the
paintings of the Dutch masters. Typically, a mature Centifolia will be
4-5 feet high, leafy, and bear lush, fragrant, pink blossoms which not
only nod in themselves, but which also frequently cause the plant's
branches to nod gracefully under their weight. Colors of various
cultivars range from white to deep rose-red, and there are striped and
spotted ones as well. `Common Centifolia', `Bullata', `Des Peintres',
`La Noblesse', `Tour de Malakoff', 'Unica'.
* Centifolia Mosses.
These roses, originally a sport of the Centifolia, bear on their
flower-stems and sepals a mutation of the glands making it appear as
if a green or reddish-brown moss were growing there, adding a unique
delicacy to the buds. In this group can be found some deep crimsons,
lacking among the regular Centifolias; this is possibly due to some
hybridization involving crimson China roses. `Common Moss', `Gloire
des Mousseux', `William Lobb', `Deuil de Paul Fontaine', `Striped
* Centifolia Pompons.
There are also several Centifolias which are to a greater or lesser
degree miniatures or dwarfs, with small, charming blossoms. `De
Meaux', `Petite de Hollande', `Spong', `Little Gem'.
* Agathe Roses.
One of the least-known groups, Agathes are seemingly complex hybrids
with a very strong influence from the Damasks and possibly R. X
francofurtana. They are characterized by rather compact, leafy bushes,
usually bearing small to medium sized full, tight blossoms. Due to
years of unfamiliarity, generations of rosarians have listed them
among the Gallicas. `Fatime', `Marie-Louise', `Majestueuse', `Bouquet
Rose de Venus', `Victorine la Couronnee'.
* Turbinata Roses.
The Turbinatas result from a cross called R. X francofurtana (between
R. gallica and R. majalis, a European species.) The main
representative of this group is `Imperatrice Josephine' with large
foliage and big, wavy blossoms of intense pink. Turbinata roses often
have some difficulty in opening their buds.
* Rubiginosa Roses.
The Rubiginosa or Sweetbriar rose is a tall-growing rose the
distinctive characteristic of which is its foliage which, particularly
after a rain, wafts a green-apple scent. The blossoms of the original
are single and pink or white, giving rise to coral-red hips, making
quite a show in the Fall. A number of hybrids were produced in the
1890's by Lord Penzance, much extending the color-range of the sort,
at some expense to the fragrance of the foliage. `Clementine', `Hebe's
Lip', `Lord Penzance', `Amy Robsart', `Greenmantle'.
* Canina Roses.
The Canina or Dog Rose is closely related to the above, lacking
however the scented foliage. The hips were considered medicinally
effective against bites from mad dogs, hence the name. The
Austro-Hungarian breeder Geschwind had a great interest in R. canina
due to its hardiness, and produced several hybrids in the latter part
of the 19th century; others have also made sparing use of it in
breeding work. `Una', `Creme', `Freya', `Kiese', `Theresia'.
* Hemispherica Roses.
Will the day of R. hemispherica ever come? Or is it already past?
Known since the 1600's, R. hemispherica has much whetted the appetites
of rosarians because of its deep yellow flowers, double in two
varieties, its glaucous foliage, and the difficulty of its culture. It
should be tried by those in dry, Mediterranean-like climates. There
are only three Hemisphericas: `Simplex', `Multiplex', and `Pompon
Jaune'--the lattermost with small double blossoms, reportedly the most
difficult of all.
* Foetida Roses.
R. foetida has long attracted the attention of horticulturists and
botanists because of its bright coloring, and at length entered into
the mainstream by the role it played in the production of the
Pernetiana roses, leading directly into the modern Hybrid Tea. The
plant is a large, arching shrub. R. foetida itself is bright yellow,
`Bicolor' is coppery orange on the inside and yellow on the outside of
the petals, 'Persian Yellow' is a double yellow. Several hybrids have
been produced, of which the following are notable: 'Le Reve', `Star of
Persia', 'Harison's Yellow'. The Pernetiana group of hybrids is
covered in a separate section.
* Pimpinellifolia Roses (including Spinosissima).
These roses are extremely hardy, have attractive foliage with various
tints in the Fall, and bear sprightly single or double blossoms in
most all the colors roses have, white, pink, red, yellow. Many are
very compact, neat-looking bushes. `William III', `William IV',
`Doorenbos Selection', `Altaica', `Marmorata', `Sulphurea'. Three
repeat-blooming cultivars were produced, hybrids with the Damask
Perpetual, one of which is still with us: `Stanwell Perpetual'.
* Boursault Roses.
The Boursaults are of the scandent or climbing habit, and are
traditionally supposed to derive from a Napoleonic-era cross between
one of the earliest Chinas and R. pendulina, an alpine rose. The
blossoms are rather large, come in larger or smaller clusters, appear
early, are in shades of pink and red, and sometimes re-appear later in
the season. The foliage in some sorts colors well in the Fall. `Mme.
de Sancy de Parabere', `Morletii', `Amadis', `Calypso'.
* Sempervirens Roses.
R. sempervirens is a climbing species from the Mediterranean area
which has glossy, persistent leaves and large clusters of small white
flowers. In the 1820's particularly, several breeders undertook work
with it, most notably A. Jacques, who hybridized it with China or
Noisette roses to come up with a series of climbers in shades of pink
to white, climbers which are still used and appreciated today.
`Felicite et Perpetue', `Adelaide d'Orleans', `Flore', `Dona Maria'.
(The greatly popular Noisette 'Aimee Vibert' is also an R.
sempervirens cross; it is however placed among the Noisettes because
* Setigera Roses.
R. setigera is a tough, hardy native of the American prairies, and has
been used to produce a number of similarly tough and hardy climbers,
first of all in the mid-19th century by several American nurserymen
whose crosses with Noisettes, Gallicas, and no one knows what else,
gave us the very beautiful varieties 'Baltimore Belle', `Gem of the
Prairies', `Eva Corinne', `Queen of the Prairies', etc. Later breeders
were to add `Corp***Johann Nagy', `Ovid', `Mrs. F.F. Prentiss', and
eventually a series of modern climbers of which the best known,
perhaps, is `Doubloons'.
* Wichuraiana Roses.
R. wichuraiana is a wide-spreading cluster-flowered
climber/groundcover rose from Japan and the Orient generally. The
American Mr. Horvath--responsible for the `Doubloons' just mentioned
above--began hybridizing with it immediately upon its appearance in
the West in the early 1890's, crossing it with Polyanthas and Chinas.
A person connected with the Barbier nurseries in France happened to
visit, became interested in the results, and got the similar and
highly successful Barbier crosses underway back home (though it is now
thought that the closely-related R. luciae was used by the Barbiers
for a number of the crosses). Many, many very meritorious ramblers
from these and other breeders were introduced in the following years,
some of the greatest popularity: `Dorothy Perkins', `Evangeline', `May
Queen', `Leontine Gervais', `Aviateur Bleriot'.
* Multiflora Roses.
Though a few Multiflora climbers had been produced early in the 19th
century by such old masters as Vibert ('De la Grifferaie') and Laffay
('Laure Davoust'), and others appeared now and then for the rest of
the century, the main impetus towards hybridizing with the Oriental R.
multiflora came with the introduction of `Turner's Crimson Rambler' in
1893. Over the next twenty-five or so years, dozens and dozens of
Multiflora Ramblers--stiffer, more upright than Wichuraiana
Ramblers--were released, some of them the so-called "blue" ramblers.
`Veilchenblau', `Bleu Magenta', `Hiawatha', `Caroubier', `Ghislaine de
* Damask Perpetual Roses.
This group was the only repeat-blooming one known to the Europeans
until the advent of the China roses. It had indeed been known
seemingly in at least one variety ('Bifera') since Roman times.
Another cultivar ('Tous-les-Mois') appeared in the 17th century, and
breeding work in earnest began on them in the 1810's. Vibert and his
successors in his firm had a very great interest in this group, and
introduced by far the greatest number of them, the last one
('Rembrandt') of their long-pursued line coming out in 1883. They
typically have stocky, healthy, decorative bushes, with the often
exquisitely double, fragrant blossoms nestling in the leaves. There
are several races of them: the Biferas, with tall, arching growth; the
Portlands, showing Gallica influence; the Tous-les-Mois, the typical
sort, bushy and compact with tight blossoms; and the Trianons, tall,
vigorous, Hybrid-Perpetual like growth with clusters of flowers. The
colors range from white through all the pinks to deepest red. 'Jacques
Cartier', `Yolande d'Aragon', `Portland Rose', `Rose du Roi', `Joasine
* China Roses.
Chinas--selectively bred from R. chinensis--had been grown in Chinese
gardens long before the Occident knew anything about them. The agent
of their first appearance in the West is under some dispute, with
claims being made for Sweden, Britain, and Italy. A pink form and a
red form entered commerce in the West in the 1790's, and breeding
quickly got underway, particularly in France and, to some degree,
Italy. The reasons for their quick popularity were primarily their
continuous bloom and, at least initially, the then-current rage for
things Oriental. Their main difficulty was their lack of
cold-hardiness. Chinas typically make, bushy, twiggy plants, often
quite irregular in outline, and range in color from deepest red and
maroon through pink to white. Some hybridized with the Teas show warm
tones of yellow, saffron, salmon, and orange. The China group has long
been considered a refuge for "decoratives" as opposed to exhibition
roses; cultivars of Tea parentage which did not show the blossom-form
expected of Teas would be offered as Chinas. `Cramoisi Superieur',
`Parsons' Pink China', `Eugene de Beauharnais', `Archiduc Charles',
`Ducher', `Nemesis', `Mme. Eugene Resal', `Arethusa', and the green
* Tea Roses.
Teas are so called because many discern in their blossoms the scent of
"a newly-opened sample of the choicest tea". Their supposed ancestry
is R. chinensis x R. gigantea, the latter being a high-climbing
Chinese rose with large primrose-colored blossoms fading quickly to
white. The British introduced the first two cultivars to the West in
1810 and 1824; the French quickly began hybridizing with them. The
spiralling starry form now usually associated with an unfurling rose
bud derives from the Tea and, to a lesser extent, the China. Teas are
considered by many aficionadoes to have the most exquisite form and
coloration in the world of the Rose. The problem confronted by the
French, however, was that the bushes producing these blossoms were
frail (at least, in France and England!), and the blossoms very
susceptible to damage from the weather. Some took to growing them as
greenhouse plants; others tried to improve the plant by
cross-breeding. Several interesting results were produced, as we shall
see in other categories below. In the history of the Teas, however,
the most important crosses were with the Bourbons. This began a new
race of Teas, most of which were quite unlike the old ones: large,
vigorous, thick-limbed shrubs, often with perfectly healthy, beautiful
glossy foliage. The colors range throughout the rose palette (reds,
pinks, whites, blushes, yellows, oranges), but most special to Teas
are the colors of dawn: tones of gold, warm pink, and rose shading
into each other, with delicate tints and highlightings. `Anna
Olivier', `Maman Cochet', `Safrano', `Comtesse de Labarthe', `Mme.
Antoine Mari', `Souvenir de Therese Levet', `Catherine Mermet',
`Etoile de Lyon', `Devoniensis', `Lady Hillingdon'.
* Bourbon Roses.
Bourbon Roses are named for the Ile Bourbon, now called Reunion, in
the Indian Ocean, where they traditionally are supposed to have
originated from a natural cross between the China `Parsons' Pink' and
the red `Tous-les-Mois', a Damask Perpetual, two roses which were used
as hedge material on the island. (This, however, is an area of hot
dispute in almost every particular.) Seeds of this plant, and cuttings
of the plant, showed up in Paris in 1819 and 1821 respectively. The
way in which the virtues of its disparate parents were combined made
these new roses popular, and after ten years of largely unsuccessful
attempts, good new Bourbons began to come out of the breeding grounds
in the 1830's. In the best of them, vigor was combined with
floriferousness, and beauty with fragrance. A typical Bourbon will
have the arching growth harkening back to its Damask ancestors, with
the lush flowers and fragrance from much the same source; but it will
also have a strong tendency to rebloom from the China ancestor, as
well as a certain often subtle influence of the China flower form.
Bourbons, however, are often not typical at all, and range from the
arching growth just mentioned to the very dwarf, China-like growth of
the cultivar 'Hermosa', indeed one of the oldest Bourbons still
available (it had shown up by 1835). They range in color from deep
reds through pinks to blush and white. The easygoing charms of the
Bourbons have returned them to the forefront of popularity among
today's old rose people, though very few were introduced after 1900;
their original heyday was the period 1830-1850. `Souvenir de la
Malmaison', `Reine Victoria', `Louise Odier', `Gloire des Rosomanes',
`Mme. Isaac Pereire', `Acidalie', `Boule de Neige'.
* Noisette Roses.
Just after 1800, John Champneys of Charleston, South Carolina, crossed
a pink China (traditionally supposed to be 'Parsons' Pink') with the
Musk Rose R. moschata, and obtained a large-growing shrub with
clusters of lightly fragrant pink blossoms, `Champneys' Pink Cluster'.
A neighbor there, Philippe Noisette, planted its seeds and grew a
plant which was similar but dwarfer, and which had larger clusters of
doubler flowers, `Blush Noisette'. Philippe Noisette's brother
happened to be a major French nurseryman in Paris, and it was through
this latter that the rose found commercial release around 1815. The
industrious French breeders soon went to work, and within ten years,
there were more than a hundred Noisettes in the catalogs in colors
from white to crimson-purple. The new yellow Tea showing up about that
time, it was crossed with the Noisettes, with a result which
fundamentlaly changed the Noisette group; the blossoms became larger,
the clusters smaller, and the plants more Tea-like, with an
inclination towards "climbing." The group reached its apogee or indeed
apotheosis in 1853 with the release of one of the most beloved roses
of all, the climber `Gloire de Dijon'. Further climbing Noisettes,
mostly in shades of yellow or pinkish yellow, were released through
the turn of the century when newer, hardier climbers of different
background took the fore. The seemingly final stage of Noisettes,
returning them much to their original concept of multi-flowered
shrubs, was coming with the development of the Hybrid Musks
(comprising crosses between Noisettes and Hybrid Teas, etc.) in the
1910's, 1920's, and beyond. `Gloire de Dijon', `Desprez a Fleur
Jaune', `Bougainville', `Chromatella', `Solfatare', `Marechal Niel',
`Aimee Vibert', `William Allen Richardson', `Lily Metschersky',
* Hybrid China, Hybrid Bourbon, Hybrid Noisette Roses.
These crosses between Chinas, Bourbons, Noisettes, and the old
European sorts (Gallicas, etc.) were made initially as an attempt to
deal with the lack of hardiness of these new sorts with R. chinensis
background. The outcome was quite varied. The results are not
absolutely clear, because offspring close to the, say, Gallica parent
would be sold as a Gallica, and offspring close to the, say, China
parent would find itself sold as a China; thus, many of these hybrids,
produced in the 1820's and 1830's primarily, masquerade as something
they are not genetically. The important thing, however, is that, due
to the laws of genetics, almost the entirety of these are
once-bloomers--but often blooming that one time a season with the most
extreme profusion and beautiful fragrant flowers. The plants are most
often climber-like and of the most extreme vigor, frequently heavily
foliated. Novices and others must be careful to distinguish between
(once-blooming) Hybrid Chinas and (repeat-blooming) China hybrids;
(once-blooming) Hybrid Bourbons and (repeat-blooming) Bourbon hybrids;
(once-blooming) Hybrid Noisettes and (repeat-blooming) Noisette
hybrids. `George IV', `Belle de Crecy', `Duchesse de Montebello',
`Mme. Plantier', `Triomphe de Laffay', `Comtesse de Lacepede',
* Hybrid Perpetual Roses.
As the breeding work continued in the late 1820's with the Hybrid
Chinas, Hybrid Bourbons, and Hybrid Noisettes, they were crossed with
the hardiest re-blooming roses they had on hand, the Damask
Perpetuals. Thus was born the race of Hybrid Perpetuals, which soon
grew to encompass as well any re-blooming progeny of the Hybrid
Chinas, etc. A first, very obscure, reblooming hybrid, `Hybride
Remontant a Bois Lisse', peeks at us from 1829, another eight or so
show up over the next decade, and soon the floodgates opened,
thousands being released over the next sixty years. They were crossed
with each other and with the Bourbons and Damask Perpetuals until a
nearly full range of color from blush white to deepest red and purple
was obtained; only purest white and yellow eluded them for a time,
spurring interesting experiments (as we shall see). Typically, a
Hybrid Perpetual will have big, cabbagey blossoms at the top of a
long, often arching cane. As HP's were developed simultaneously with
the rise of rose shows and competition, the forms became increasingly
refined over the years from the original muddled or quartered look
(now back in fashion!) to a rather fulsome version of what we might
expect in a rose of today. Many HP's show a tendency towards fungal
diseases, requiring a careful program of spraying. The thrill of a
garden full of big, fragrant HP's in full bloom is something not to be
forgotten; many will think of this and be quick to forgive them their
often miserly rebloom. They began to fade from the scene with the
advent of the Hybrid Tea. `Baronne Prevost', `Victor Verdier',
`Charles Lefebvre', `Jules Margottin', `American Beauty', `General
Jacqueminot', `Frau Karl Druschki', `Georg Arends', `Mrs. John Laing',
`Souvenir d'Alphonse Lavalle', `Reine des Violettes', `Tartarus'.
* Old Hybrid Tea Roses.
Ah, me. Here one is, a breeder in, say, the late 1860's, trying to
breed a "different" HP among the hundreds coming out every year, one
with shapely blossoms to win at shows, one that blooms more to attract
those looking for Garden decoration, maybe one that's white or even
yellow! The obvious answer, and one that occurred to several
breeders--but most notably to Lacharme of France and Bennett of
England--was to breed the Tea into the Hybrid Perpetual; they were
willing to risk some loss of hardiness to gain something "different."
Though the occasional HP x T cross had been made before and released,
the first long-term programs of such were made by Lacharme and
Bennett. From the mid-1870's on, others tried their hands at it
increasingly; and, by the 1890's, Hybrid Teas were replacing Hybrid
Perpetuals in the gardens of "modern"-thinking rosarians. The Hybrid
Teas bloomed more, were bushier, had more beautiful leaves and
better-shaped flowers, and the color-range, somewhat limited in the
HP's, was extended into the warm, *** range of the Teas; the HP's
mainly held ground where their greater hardiness made them more
desirable. The problems with these new HT's was that they were, as we
just saw, more tender, and they carried with them the problem that
many Teas had of nodding on the stem; further, the color range, though
wide, was muted: milky whites, creamy pinks, pale c***pinks, dull
rose-coloreds, no real full-bodied reds at first; worst, perhaps, they
were no improvement in health. And yet . . . and yet . . . they are
beautiful, delicate creatures. (Traditionalists remind me to cite 'La
France' as "the first Hybrid Tea"; it was introduced in 1867, as a
Bourbon hybrid.) `Captain Christy', `Mme. Lacharme', `Antonine
Verdier', `Jean Sisley', `Julius Finger', `Grace Darling',
`Viscountess Folkestone', `Mme. Caroline Testout', `Kaiserin Auguste
Viktoria', `Antoine Rivoire', `Mme. Wagram, Comtesse de Turenne'.
* Pernetiana Roses.
Though the new HT's had definite yellow tinges from their Tea
connections, Pernet-Ducher of Lyon, France, wanted to develop a deep
yellow. Experimentation in the 1890's with the difficult to breed with
R. foetida at length brought a cross between it and an old purple-red
HP, `Antoine Ducher'. From this came `Soleil d'Or' of 1900, a rather
difficult-to-grow plant with blossoms of a revolutionary coloration:
gold/pink/saffron/etc., much more pronounced than it had ever been in
the Teas. This cross and its nearer descendants were called
"Pernetiana Roses" in honor of Pernet-Ducher. They are characterized
by growth and health quirks associated with R. foetida (glossy leaves,
die-back, fungal problems). To remedy these problems, and to satisfy
what would be the natural urge, breeders began crossing these
Pernetianas with the Hybrid Teas of the time, producing wild colors in
oranges, hot pinks, bright yellows, flame, apricot . . . By the late
1920's, these two races had merged to produce the Modern Hybrid Tea of
today. `Soleil d'Or', `Mme. Edouard Herriot', `Los Angeles', `Souvenir
de Claudius Pernet', `Souvenir de Georges Pernet', `Willowmere',
`Autumn', `California', `Arthur R. Goodwin', `Lyon-Rose'.
* Mossy Remontants.
While the HP's were getting underway in the 1830's and 1840's, another
new sort of repeat-blooming rose made its appearance: the Mossy
Remontant. The first one was a sport of the Damask Perpetual `Bifera'
in 1835; but the first one intentionally bred was released by Mauget
of Orleans, France, in 1844. Over the next forty or so years, a number
of Mossy Remontants were released, some quite charming indeed, though
many are neither very mossy nor very remontant (reblooming). Many are
close to the Damask Perpetuals in plant habit, having undoubtedly been
bred from them, and make neat little bushes in the garden. Others seem
to have Hybrid Perpetual relations, and grow in the gawky way of that
tribe. These do better in warm climates than do the regular Mosses.
Their colors range from white through pink to deep red. `Alfred de
Dalmas', `Soupert et Notting', `Cesonie', `Mme. Edouard Ory', `Pompon
Perpetuel', `Salet', `Deuil de Paul Fontaine', `Baron de Wassenaer'.
* Polyantha Roses.
In 1869, Guillot fils of Lyon, France, sowed seed from R. multiflora
'Polyantha', a large shrub introduced from Japan around 1862, with
clusters of single, white, fragrant blossoms. From this, he obtained a
large crop of much varied seedlings; "I didn't have so many as two
which resembled their mother!" said he. Elsewhere in Lyon, the breeder
Rambaux had sown a separate crop, with similar results. Guillot fils
got seeds from a semi-double in the crop, sowed these, and from this
arose the first Polyantha, `Paquerette', released in 1875. Alongside
the "pure" Polyanthas, breeders crossed them with Teas to obtain
clusters of small but perfectly-formed buds, as with `Mlle. Cecile
Brunner' and `Perle d'Or'. Polyanthas normally produce dwarfish,
compact bushes ranging from one foot to three in height, bearing often
immense clusters of small blossoms which can range through the whole
spectrum of rose coloration. Some have a tendency towards leaflessness
in the Summer. New Polyanthas continue to be bred and released in the
present-day world of roses due to their unique qualities for breeding
and display. They were crossed beginning in the ***s and 20's with
Hybrid Teas to produce the Floribunda group. `Mlle. Cecile Brunner',
`Perle d'Or', `Rita Sammons', `Lady Anne Kidwell', `Mignonette',
`Clotilde Soupert', `Eblouissant', `Anne Marie de Montravel', `Mme.
Norbert Levavasseur', `Perle des Rouges', `Merveille des Rouges',
`Margo Koster', `Sunshine'.
* Rugosa Roses.
Rugosa roses are those derived from the thorny Japanese rose R.
rugosa, the two mains forms of which are wine-red and white. Though a
few crosses had been made earlier (as early as the 1820's), in the
1890's several hybridizers became interested in working with the
species due to its hardiness, health, vigor, and special beauty. This
lattermost is due to its glossy green leaves and splendid orange hips
as well as its large, beautiful flowers. Due to the ease with which it
crosses, much has been tried with the Rugosas, and efforts continue
today. Colors range from white through pink to red and purple, and
yellow can be found as well. There are new dwarfer cultivars, but
normally the specimen will reach five or six feet in height. Some old
cultivars: `Roseraie de l'Hay', `Blanc Double de Coubert',
`Fimbriata', `Mme. Alvarez del Campo', `New Century', `Comte
d'Epremesnil',`Grootendorst Supreme', `Rose Apples'.
* Miscellaneous Roses.
There are many small groups of roses we cannot cover here due to
limitations of space. We can, however, at least mention a few names
from some of these groups: Arvensis ('Dundee Rambler', `Ayrshire
Queen', `Mme. Viviand-Morel', `Ruga'), Banksia (`Albo-Plena',
`Lutescens', `Luteo-Plena'), Bracteata ('Alba Odorata', `Maria
Leonida', `Mermaid'), Hugonis (`Albert Maumene', `Dr. E.M. Mills'),
Laevigata ('Ramona', `Anemonen Rose', `Silver Moon'), Musk (`Flore
Pleno', `Fraser's Pink Musk', `Princesse de Nassau'), Roxburghii (`Ma
Surprise', `Triomphe de la Guillotiere', `Domaine de Chapuis',
`Chateau de la Juvenie'), Soulieana ('Chevy Chase', Kew Rambler'),
Pomifera ('Duplex'); Hybrid Musk, based on Noisette/HT crosses
(`Felicia', `Francesca', `Pax', `Nur Mahal', `Sammy', `Penelope'),
Lambertiana, based on Multiflora/HT crosses (`Trier', `Gneisenau',
`Lessing', `Eva'), Thomasiana, based on Wichuraiana/HT crosses
(`Bishop Darlington', `Bloomfield Dainty', `Bloomfield Perfection'),
Rubrifolia, a fascinating species with reddish glaucous foliage
(`Carmenetta', `Flora Plena', `Semi-Double'). Additionally, many
species make charming additions to the garden in their own right. Some
would be: R. brunonii, R. californica, R. carolina, R. cymosa, R.
gigantea, R. macrophylla, R. moyesii, R. omiensis `Pteracantha', R.
pisocarpa, R. stellata `Mirifica', R. xanthina, and many others--not
forgetting the very close cousin of roses, Hulthemia persica, which
has recently entered into some mainstream rose breeding.
* Middle Aged Roses.
Increasingly without a home are the very beautiful Hybrid Teas and
Floribundas introduced in the 1920's, 1920's, 1940's, 1950's . . . Too
young to be "old" roses, too old for many current-day rosarians, these
wonderful cultivars need an interest group of their own.
* Current Questions/Activities in the Field.
There are many questions in the field of Old Roses relating primarily
to history (cultural questions are, in the main, the same as for
modern roses). Those interested could spend many pleasurable hours
trying to obtain biographical data on breeders, or researching the
methods or cultivars used in their breeding. Persons in or around The
Netherlands are in a position to do the field a very great favor by
putting together a major article or book in English about the
breeders, methods, and cultivars used by the Dutch in their breeding
1600-1830, as there is virtually nothing on this very very important
subject available in English (or French). Questions about the history
and make-up of the Damasks and Damask Perpetuals remain without firm
answers, and are probably in the province of scientific rather than
An important activity undertaken and enjoyed by many old rosers is to
visit old gardens, cemeteries, churches, town sites, and the like to
find, propagate, and try to identify old roses found growing there.
Debate on the subject of identification is often hot and heart-felt,
many people having sentimental attachments to names long familiar or
roses they have found; those entering into the fray need to have
obtained accurate descriptions from old sources such as catalogs,
magazines, or books published when the cultivars were new. Those in a
position to do so can check the old bulletins or minutes of their
local horticultural society for data about what old roses were popular
in the area in a particular era; those living in old rose-breeding
areas may stumble on a gold mine of information when they do so. Those
more interested in growing could put together collections of roses
from, for instance, one breeder, and then write an article comparing,
contrasting, extrapolating results. A major need is to import into the
U.S. cultivars which at present exist only in Europe; the person
attempting to do so needs to be able to meet the requirements of the
USDA quarantine as well as to negotiate the difficulties of doing
There are a number of organizations which would be of interest to
devotees of old roses. We cannot know or list all of them; neither
listing nor failing to list here indicates any opinion of their worth.
Here are some addresses correct as of the time of writing (November 1,
1994); please write for information:
GENERAL ROSE SOCIETIES
American Rose Society
P.O. Box 30,000
Shreveport, LA 71130
Canadian Rose Society
Mrs. Anne Graber, Secr.
10 Fairfax Cr.
Scarborough, Ont M1L 1Z8
The Royal National Rose Society
St. Albans, Herts. AL2 3NR
La Societe Francaise des Roses
Parc de la Tete d'Or
Verein Deutscher Rosenfreunde
OLD ROSE SOCIETIES
Dallas Area Historical Rose Society
P.O. Box 38585
Dallas, TX 75238-0585
Heritage Roses Group, North-East
RD 1 Box 299
Clinton Corners, NY 12514
Heritage Roses Group, North Central
6365 Wald Road
Monroe, WI 53566
Heritage Roses Group, North West
23665 41st Street South
Kent, WA 98032
Heritage Roses Group, South East
1700 S. Lafayette St.
Shelby, NC 28150
Heritage Roses Group, South Central
Rt. 2 Box 6661
Pipe Creek, TX 78063
Heritage Roses Group, South West (Last name A-G)
Betty L. Cooper
925 King Drive
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Heritage Roses Group, South West (Last name H-O)
100 Bear Oaks Drive
Martinez, CA 94553
Heritage Roses Group, South West (Last name P-Z)
472 Gibson Avenue
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Heritage Rose Foundation
1512 Gorman Street
Raleigh, NC 27606
Les Amis de la Roseraie
Rue Andre Watel
We alas cannot list all old rose nurseries, and do not wish to seem to
be recommending any one or group over any other in something involving
commercial interests. The societies listed above can provide lists of
nurseries, at least one recent book ("The Quest for the Rose") lists
several for a number of countries around the world, and there is
currently (November 1, 1994) a thread on this newsgroup discussing
rose suppliers (if it is gone, start another thread asking!).
All books published on this subject should be examined with interest
and discernment. Here are a few recent ones; we are no doubt
forgetting several equally worthy ones.
"The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book", by Graham Stuart Thomas. Timber
Press, 1994. (Timber Press phone #: [in USA] 1-800-327-5680;
[elsewhere] (503) 227-2878.)
"The Quest for the Rose", by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix. Random
"The Old Rose Advisor", by Brent C.***erson. Timber Press, 1992.
"Roses", by Peter Beales. Harvill, 1992.
"Old Roses and English Roses", by David Austin. Antique Collector's
"Rosa Rugosa", by Suzy Verrier.
"Les Roses Anciennes", by C***te Testu. Flammarion, 1984.
end of Old Roses
rec.gardens.roses FAQ, part 4/6