Rose Types – Rambling Rose, Climbing Rose, Miniature Rose etc

Wide Variety of Rose Types

The rose has had a very long history as a garden plant having been cultivated since the earliest days of civilisation. The Persians knew and grew it and so did the Romans. It has been a favourite flower in Britain for more than three centuries and there are many many rose types.

floribunda rose - rose types

Today the rose is the most popular of all garden plants in this country and supports a society, The Royal National Rose Society, which is by far the largest specialist horticultural society in the world.  The rose has become, commercially, a very important plant not only in Britain but in France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, America and many other countries.

Rose breeding is pretty big business, attracting some of the best brains in horticulture and protected in many countries by laws which give the raiser certain financial rights in his country for a number of years. It is not surprising, therefore, that the rose has been remarkably developed and has produced all manner of shapes, colours and even scents not associated with it as a wild plant.

Species has been crossed with species, hybrids themselves have been bred one with another, until a vast number of separate inheritance units, what the scientific breeder calls genes, has been combined to produce the rose in all its complex variety as we know it today.

Hybrid Tea Roses and Floribunda Roses

Years ago it was not too difficult to separate garden roses into certain well defined groups or classes. Thus rose growers knew the Hybrid Tea as a rose with large shapely blooms produced more or less continuously from June to September. It was a totally different rose from the Polyantha which produced much smaller flowers in much larger clusters, or the Ramblers which threw out great stems 10 or 15 feet in length and flowered only once each year in July or August.

For convenience we still try to keep these or similar classifications but between some of them it becomes more difficult each year to draw any really rigid and satisfactory dividing lines.  Thus the old Polyantha (or Polyantha Pompon) rose has virtually disappeared, its place taken by the Floribunda rose which was started by crossing hybrid tea roses with polyantha roses.

At first the floribunda was quite different. The flowers were larger than those of the polyantha roses but smaller and far less shapely than those of the hybrid teas. They were produced in big clusters with all the flowers in a cluster open at practically the same time so that the overall effect was greater than that of the hybrid tea roses though individually the flowers were far less interesting.

But plant breeders were not satisfied with that and they went on trying to ‘improve’ the floribunda rose which really means that they tried to make it more and more like the hybrid tea rose with the one exception of opening more flowers at the same time.  In this, they have now succeeded so well that it is really difficult to decide into which class some new roses should go.

In America the name Grandiflora, has been used to describe some of the large-flowered floribunda varieties but this has not been accepted by The Royal National Rose Society which, if it distinguishes at all between small and large-flowered floribunda varieties, calls the latter hybrid tea-type Floribundas.

Shrub Roses

We used to know what a hybrid musk rose was. This was a name given to a rose first produced by an Essex clergyman who claimed to have crossed the Musk Rose (Rosa moschata) with some garden hybrids.

The varieties he produced, among which the most famous were (and still are) Penelope, Cornelia and Felicia, made quite big bushes and had a long flowering season. But now a great many roses which certainly owe nothing to the musk rose have similar qualities and there is a growing tendency to lump them all together as shrub roses. It is difficult to give a hard and fast definition of a shrub rose but by and large it is a rose that is vigorous and well branched so that it makes a good bush not in need of a great deal of pruning. The flowers may be large or small, produced in big clusters or only in twos and threes but usually more or less perpetually flowering from June to September.

There is not a lot to distinguish some shrub from some floribunda roses except that the floribunda varieties are less vigorous and therefore more suitable for planting in masses in beds, whereas the shrub roses often look their best when planted individually or mixed with other kinds of shrubs.

Rambling Roses and Other Climbing Roses

Rambler roses have not changed greatly, largely because not many new varieties have been raised. Essentially the rambler is a vigorous climber bearing small flowers in big clusters. As a rule it flowers once only but a few varieties are repeat-flowering types.

rambling rose

Climbers other than ramblers can be conveniently divided into those that were natural climbers from the moment they were first raised from seed and those that started life as bush roses and then changed (or sported) to the climbing habit.

Outwardly there is often little or nothing to distinguish the two types; indeed the climbers are a very mixed lot with little to link them together save their long growth which can be trained on walls, fences, screens, etc. Some have large shapely flowers, others have smaller flowers (though not so small or clustered as those of the ramblers).  Some have difficulty in ‘climbing’ to 8 feet, whilst others will easily reach 20 feet.

The reason for the importance in the distinction between climbers and climbing sports resides in none of these things but simply in the fact, that because of their peculiar origin it is seldom wise to prune climbing sports hard, for they have a tendency to revert to their original bush forms and hard pruning aggravates this.  I believe that because of this weakness climbing sports are a dying class and that their place will be taken by what one might call ‘natural born climbers’.

Miniature Roses

The Miniatures have been known for a very long time but it is only in recent years that rose growers have begun to take much interest in them. They are miniature in every way with little flowers borne on little bushes which may be no more than a foot high when fully grown. Most of them look rather like floribunda roses seen through the wrong end of a pair of Held glasses. They are useful little roses for edging rose beds in paved terraces so that they almost seem to be growing in the crevices between the slabs of paving.

Old-Fashioned Roses

Some rose growers also  refer to Old-fashioned Roses as though they were a class in themselves, which they obviously are not because even in olden times there were many different classes of roses:

  • Moss roses with a curious almost moss-like outgrowth on buds and young stems,
  • Bourbon roses with fine shapely flowers,
  • Cabbage roses with very full many petalled flowers,
  • Damask roses,
  • Provence roses,
  • Noisette roses and still more.

Moreover, not all the roses that pass as old-fashioned today are really old at all. Some have been raised in the last century but they have an old-fashioned look about them such as flat quartered blossoms or an outgrowth of ‘moss’. A great many of these roses look best when grown in isolation as I have suggested for shrub roses and quite a lot of them, like shrub roses, do not need a great deal of pruning. But it is really unwise to generalise too much about such a very mixed lot of roses.

Rose Species

Finally, there are the species; the wild roses, some of which are parents of the garden hybrids I have just been describing. There are hundreds of these wild roses though by no means all of them are grown in gardens. They nearly all have single flowers, and bloom only once a year. Sometimes their fruits which follow the flowers are very handsome and the plants are worth growing for this feature only. R. moyesii and R. pomifera are two examples of this.

Sometimes the foliage is attractively coloured or turns colour in autumn. R. alba, R. rubrifolia and R. nitida are examples. Some species are prostrate, e.g., R. multiflora and R. filipes.

Most commercial rose growers stock a few species and some make a feature of them. In the garden their place is in the shrub border or as a background to the rose garden rather than in the rose beds themselves. Correctly sited, these roses can give a great deal of pleasure as indeed, do all the many different rose types.

25. July 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Roses | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Rose Types – Rambling Rose, Climbing Rose, Miniature Rose etc


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