Roses for Everyone

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

My goal is to make you a smart rose grower, not a rosarian. There’s whole societies for that, and I offer them to you if want to truly specialize. I want to teach you some history, help you recognize the different kinds of roses, not just because it’s interesting, but so you’ll be a smarter shopper. Questions spin through your head, if you’re lucky: do I have room for a climber, will another pink rose be too boring, what did the book say this one will smell like? That ‘s not even considering which types grow best in which circumstances.

The truth is roses were growing on earth before people were here to worry about them. Fossils from CO and OR prove wild roses lived 40 million years ago. They spread from central asia around the world above the equator..for some reason, never found natives southern hemisphere. There’s literally some rose that grows in virtually every climate, including ours.

Here’s the first tip: truly wild roses have unrosey flowers that have one layer only of five petals...more like appleblossoms than traditional roses.Open flowers make it easy for pollenation to happen and is a key to the rose's survival.

5000 years ago, Chinese brought roses into cultivation. By the time of Christ, Egytians were growing and selling roses to the Romans in addition to their own thriving fields in southern Italy. You’ve heard of Nero: he ordered cut flowers for one night totaling $100,000 in modern terms.

Next came the era of the rose as a medicine, valued for its extracts, especially those produced at Provins, where monks made a fortune growing, extracting and selling roses that were included in all sorts of apothocary concoctions...most herbalists agree that aside from a bit of vitamin c, the rose’s biggest contribution was to cover the hideous taste of many of the potions.

Good taste is a hallmark of the Rosaceae family...strawberries, raspberries, peach, almond, apple, apricot, hawthorn...you can recognize them by their petals in sets of five. Historians speculate that all of them came from one ancient plant, but so what? On the other hand, modern roses all have family trees, some quite extensive, most beginning with eight species that began arriving in Europe around 1700. They were the basis of modern rose breeding for bushes that will repeat bloom instead of once a year. As with all breeding, the search for one thing may be successful...great flowers in this case...at the expense of other qualities...when they bred a tomato they could roll to market, they traded flavor in too many cases. In roses, they got flowers but weak plants, spindly roots, no vigor. So they got grafted onto hardy rose rootstocks and thus were modern roses developed, all 5500 or so of them.

Rose Notes

Hybrid tea, child of hybrid perpetuals and tea rose; by the way, the classic ones, really do smell like tea Polyantha, child of china rose and japanese rose (late 19th century) Floribunda, child of hybrid teas and polyanthas (early 20th) Grandiflora, child of hybrid teas and floribundas Hybrid musk, not a musk at all, but great clusters, and truly english, big shrubs, variety of fragrances, more shade tolerant than most. try under tall pine shade.

Climbers not officially a type, but a selection for growth habit. should be called trainable, since must be tied to go up.

May find some called pillar roses or column roses, stiffest things you’ve ever seen to 8 ft, grow tied to a post.

Shrub roses are usually species of wild roses, japanese roses.
Tree roses amazing to look at, but can be fussy to keep lovely up close.
Miniature roses, great in garden, too, especially wonderful in pots.

Old Roses

Species and hybrid species grow on their own roots, do well in south if came from similar latitudes, many did, look em up, Seven Sisters, Mermaid, Fortunes Double Yellow, great to naturalize, many climbers, one bloom flush, excellent fruit

Tea roses grow on their own roots, and do best from here south, since they’re sort of silly and will grow on in the face of dropping temperatures. grow from cuttings. Aloha

China rose first remontant, or everblooming, delicate, neatly pointed leaves, rather angular form, fruity fragrance, Archduke Charles, mutabilis, tolerate clay and alkalinity, heat and humidity...why do we grow anything else?

Bourbon rose rich rosey scent, cross of chinas and europeans bred from them,  maggie

Noisette rose erect shrubs, or large climbers, known for drooping clusters of flowers, clay soils ok, give some support, natchitoches noisette
Damask, Gallica, Alba, Moss came from more northerly climes, give pm shade
 

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