List of Old Shrub Roses
These are among the oldestknown in garden cultivation, some dating back to Roman times. They are tough and vigorous and thrive in almost any kind of , including light sandy types. They are compact, bushy shrubs and their blooms are exceptionally fragrant, flat and packed with petals.
The foliage is greyish-blue. ‘Celestial’, with clear pink; ‘Felicite- Parmentier’, double white; ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’, soft pink; and ‘Queen of Denmark’, a deep rich pink, are among the best in this section. The albas bloom around midsummer and the flowers are followed by showy, scarlet, oval hips.
The Bourbon group contains some of the best of the old-fashioned roses, including the lovely shell rose, ‘Mme Pierre Oger’, with globular blooms of a delicate creamy pink; ‘La Reine Victoria’, deep pink; ‘Mme Isaac Periere’, double crimson; and ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, pale pink. ‘Constance Spry’, a beautiful clear pink fully double rose, is a noteworthy recent introduction to this category, while another popular Bourbon rose is the thornless ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, whose vigorous growth makes it a useful wall shrub. It has masses of blooms of a dazzling pink.
Most of the Bourbons bloom more or less continuously throughout the summer and autumn. Their shapely flowers have a strong fragrance.
This group includes the old sweetly scented Cabbage Roses, so popular in Victorian gardens, and contains some of the oldest roses known in cultivation. ‘Pink Cabbage’ and ‘White Provence’ are the two that most approximate to the ‘cabbage’ description. The pale pink blooms of ‘Fantin Latour’ are flattened, with a button centre, while those of Tour de Malakoff are deep lavender on opening, turning to shades of paler mauve, violet and grey as the flowers mature. The centifolias flower once, around midsummer.
China Rose Group
This group contains varieties and hybrids of Rosa chinensis, all of which flower freely from early summer to the end of the year. The gem of this collection is ‘Cecile Brunner’, a semi-dwarf bush with flowers like those of a miniature pink hybrid tea. Others in the group worth growing are ‘Bloomfield Abundance’, with miniature shell-pink flowers similar to those of ‘Cecile Brunner’; ‘Fellemberg’, with its crimson-pink flowers in large clusters; and ‘Jenny Wren’, a newer hybrid, with clusters of coral-pink blooms. Also included is the unusual ‘green’ rose, viridiflora, whose flowers, blue-green in bud and streaked with brown at maturity, are great favourites with flower arrangers.
Rosa damascena, the Damask Rose, flowers around midsummer, and is distinguished by the exceptionally rich fragrance of its blooms. It is these, in fact, that are used in the manufacture of attar of roses. ‘Omar Khayyam’, with flat pink blooms, was originally raised from the seed of a plant growing on the poet’s grave. Other worthwhile forms include ‘Blush Damask’, lilac pink; ‘Ispahan’, rose pink; and ‘Mme Hardy’, white. All have fully double flowers.
The gallicas, in general, are low-growing, with small pale green leaves and double or semi-double flowers that appear around midsummer. One of the best known is ‘Versicolor’, (also known as ‘Rosa Mundi’), with gaily striped crimson and white blooms. Other colourful gallicas include ‘Tuscany’, whose crimson semi- double blooms have showy golden stamens, and ‘Belle de Crecy’, with lovely lilac-pink double flowers, which mature to violet purple.
In the main, the moyesii roses are taller than most other, with an elegant arching habit of growth. The flowers are single and vividly coloured, followed by decorative flask-shaped orange hips.
The rugosas and their hybrids are among the most widely grown of the old shrub roses. They have a tough, disease-resistant constitution – they are almost immune to-great vigour, attractive grey-green wrinkled foliage, fragrant flowers, decorative hips and colourful golden yellow autumn foliage. Pruned back hard, they produce an abundance of blooms from midsummer to autumn. ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’, with ‘whiter than white’ flowers that look as though they have been scissored out of crepe paper, is one of the loveliest.
Other shrub roses
More recent introductions possessing the vigour and ease of cultivation of their older relations include ‘Fritz Nobis’, which has masses of clove-scented semi-double salmon-pink blooms followed by decorative hips, and ‘Nevada’, one of the tallest and most productive of all the shrub roses, whose arching stems are massed with creamy-white single blooms, 10 cm (4 in) across.
Equally attractive are the hybrids of the Burnet Rose, known as the ‘Fruhlings’ group. The star of this collection is ‘Fruhlingsgold’, an early-flowering shrub rose whose creamy-yellow flowers have prominent golden stamens and are very sweetly scented.