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The Arrival Of The China Rose

Development of the damask roses and their close relatives continued slowly. Unfortunately the roses such as the Portland roses, were destined to be overshadowed by major developments in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that resulted from new material obtained from China.

Perpetual flowering semi-dwarf bushes were cultivated in China well before that start of European rose breeding. The parent of many of these , R.chinenis, was introduced around 1752, followed by some hybrids in 1792. According to Graham Stuart Thomas' China roses are the class upon which modern roses are built. Tradition holds that four or five 'stud China' roses were brought to Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and this brought about the creation of the first classes of repeat flowering Old Garden Roses and later the Modern Garden Roses. China roses as these early hybrids are known, are still available.

Among the most popular are 'Old Blush' a fragrant rose with silvery pink blooms was among the first introductions and is also available as a climber. The most widely grown China rose is probably 'Mutablis' an interesting rose as the flowers change from yellow to red as the season progresses. Another China rose that has stood the test of time is 'Cecile Brunner often known as 'The Sweetheart Rose' and 'The Maltese Rose'.

A very pretty free flowering rose with small delicate soft pink blooms which are ideal for button holes. This is also still available as a climber. Bourbon roses originated around 1817 from a chance natural hybridising between R.chinensis and an autumn damask on a French island now known as Reunion-an island between Madagascar and Mauritius. Seed of the original plant was sent to France and crossed with gallicas and damasks to produce the first bourbons. These roses, which are long blooming and strongly scented are still widely grown today. The most popular being, 'Mme Isaac Periere'.

A superb old rose with huge shaggy blooms of mauvy crimson and an intense perfume. 'Zephirine Drouhin' a climber with large cerise pink blooms . A very popular rose as it is one of the very few thornless roses. 'La Reine Victoria' A slender erect bush with beautiful lilac-pink blooms and a wonderful perfume.


Zephirine Drouhin


La Reine Victoria

Noisette roses were the first hybrid group to originate from the USA, Originating in the early 1800s from an 'Old Blush' x R. Moschata cross' they are strong growing bushes or climbers with clusters of small blooms in white or pastel shades of yellow or pink. Noisette climbers have recently become very popular again. Among the most popular are 'Mme Alfred Carriere' which has large white-blushed pink double flowers and a wonderful perfume. Grow this lovely old rose up your house wall and the perfume will penetrate into every room. A very useful rose as it will also grow on a North wall. 'Crepescule' A very attractive climber with superb double shapely blooms of a mixture of orange and apricot and a very pleasing fragrance.

Tea roses or tea-scented roses are another development of R.chinensis. These roses which flower in shades of white pink and yellow, are hybrids of R.gigantea x R.chinensis., a cross known as R.x odorata. They enjoyed a period of popularity around the 1830s, but the real significance of the tea rose to modern gardeners is that it was crossed with the other styles to produce the hybrid perpetual roses, which were the direct predecessors of the most popular modern roses the hybrid teas. Hybrid perpetuals were by far the most popular garden roses of the 19th century.

They were originally introduced in 1835 and were very popular for over 50 years. Quite a few are still grown but they are now something of a rarity. They often have very large, strongly scented flowers and variable sizes from compact plants to vigorous shrubs. A few that are still popular are. 'Baroness Rothschild' 'Ferdinand Pichard' 'Paul Neyron' and 'Reine des Violettes'. They have varying degrees of perfume and most will repeat flower.


Mme Alfred Carriere


Ferdinand Pichard

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