Roses have grown in gardens for thousands of years. Gardeners have taken advantage of the natural variation within wild rose species (the ancestors of all modern hybrid roses) to breed plants that exhibit a range of colors, shapes, and fragrances. Breeding and hybridizing roses has resulted in hundreds of species and tens of thousands of cultivars.
The American Rose Society developed a system for classifying and organizing roses. Three categories emerged: Species Roses, Old Garden Roses, and Modern Roses.
Often referred to as wild roses, species roses are the ancestors of all modern hybrids. Most species roses produce five to eight petals on each flower, and grow in heaping clusters with an overall cover of hardy branches. Rose hips, colorful fruits that follow the blooms, continue the display throughout the seasons. Image: Rosa glauca
They usually bloom once a season, with the exception of the continually blooming beach rose (Rosa rugosa). Beach rose withstands harsh conditions. Covered with large prickles, it grows along shores and coastal dunes, and is often used as a hedged barrier to homes located along the sea.
Hundreds of different species roses are native to the Northern Hemisphere, including Rosa blanda stretching from the Tropic of Cancer to the Arctic Circle.
Defined by the American Rose Society as those types that existed before 1867 when the first hybrid, 'La France', was introduced by French breeder Jean-Baptiste Andre Guillot (1827–93).
The oldest European garden roses are gallica, damask, alba, and moss. Planted along the fence in the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, their pink, red, or white flowers bloom once per year. Image: Rosa gallica 'Complicata'
On the outskirts of Paris, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763–1814) grew many varieties of gallicas at her Château de Malmaison, and commissioned renowned botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) to paint her favorite roses. Her garden featured the largest display of roses in early 19th-century France. Image: Rosa 'Kazanlik'
Modern roses are bred to produce particular characteristics such as petal shape, fragrance, color, continuous bloom, and disease resistance. Over time many rose breeders focused their energy on bloom size, since repeated bloom and fragrance were not as much of a priority. Image: Rosa 'Brother's Grimm Fairytale'
Rose hybridizers earn the right to name their creations, often choosing names inspired by historical events, celebrities, fairy tales, or even favorite foods. Roses with celebrity names might be chosen in honor of or selected by that particular person. The McCartney Rose®™ is a pink hybrid tea with a spicy fragrance that was offered as a gift to legendary musician Paul McCartney.
The vibrant red Miracle on the Hudson™ rose honors the crew and captain of US Airways Flight 1549, pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, whose quick decision making saved 155 passengers on board with an emergency water landing.
Older rose varieties are sometimes referred to as “found roses.” Discovered in cemeteries, roadsides, and abandoned gardens, found roses have lost their original names but not their appeal. These roses are studied in hopes that one day their true identities will be revealed.
- Older rose varieties are sometimes referred to as “found roses.” Rediscovered in cemeteries, roadsides, and abandoned gardens, found roses have lost their original names but not their appeal. These roses are studied in hopes that one day their true identities will be revealed. Found roses have survived despite lack of care, and many are used today by rose hybridizers in their quest for fragrance and disease resistance. The names we know them by are often related to the story of their rediscovery.
In the early 1980s, “Temple Musk” was discovered growing at the historic Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The fragrant white blooms appear identical to the ancient musk rose (<em>Rosa moschata</em>). Native to North Africa and the Middle East, musk rose was grown in the cloistered gardens of 16th-century European monasteries and apothecary gardens in colonial America. As roses with larger blooms were introduced, musk roses became unfashionable and were even thought to be extinct. Today rosarians believe that “Temple Musk” as well as other found roses from southeastern states may indeed be the long-lost <em>Rosa moschata</em>
Image: “Bermuda Mystery Rose”