Last-modified: 7 March 1995
rec.gardens.roses FAQ, part 4/6
Written by Brent C. Dickerson, odin...@csulf.edu, author, "The Old Rose
Advisor" (FAQ compiled October-November, 1994)
See part 1 of the FAQ for more information about this document. The latest
version of this document and the entire Rose FAQ are located on the Internet
at "http://www.mc.edu/~nettles/rofaq/rofaq-top.html" .
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
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 sexual
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/coral
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',
* 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 Moss'.
* 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
* 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 it reblooms.)
* 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 `Corporal 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 Hanet', `Marbree'.
* 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 rose
* 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', `Lamarque'.
* 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', `Las-Cases', `Malton'.
* 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
* 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, exotic 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 coral 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 Teens 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 Quest for the Rose", by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix. Random
"The Old Rose Advisor", by Brent C. Dickerson. 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 Charlotte Testu. Flammarion, 1984.
end of Old Roses
rec.gardens.roses FAQ, part 4/6