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March 2005. This month I wish to take a moment to remind readers of a very important issue regarding the Internet and Intellectual Property issues. On every page of this web site the following statement can be found: "Original photographs and site content © 2005 Paul Barden, All Rights Reserved" Let me elaborate on its meaning. Copyright, indicated by the ©, is intended to protect the author of written and photographic works (and all creative work) from theft and illegal reproduction of that material. That means that you, the viewer are not allowed to save and reproduce any of the content of this web site without my express written permission. The photographs are not to be re-published on the Web or in printed material of any sort without first consulting me and obtaining my permission.

In the past two years the number of incidents of image theft from my web site has escalated dramatically. Many of these thefts occur with people who sell their plants on a well-known online auction service, and other times my photographs have appeared on personal web sites where the images are presented as though they are the property of that web site. These illegal usages of my Intellectual Property are unacceptable infringements of Copyright. All instances of content theft will be addressed first by me, followed up by my lawyer. So please, do the right thing and don't take my work and present it as your own. The WWW is not a free-for-all, and people who publish their work on the Web have the right to control how and where their work is used. Please respect the artists and authors on the Web and do not steal their work. Thank you.

A Review of Remontant and Non-Remontant Old Garden Roses
by Paul Barden

Several years ago I wrote an article about my favorite Old Garden Roses (OGR's). Since then I have often thought that I should rewrite this document and create a new favorites list for both remontant and non-remontant cultivars. Therefore I have written a new list of my top twelve remontant OGR's and twelve favorite non-remontant OGR's, adding two more plants to each list than my previous list. When there are so many excellent roses to choose from it seemed arbitrary to limit the list to ten. At a later date, I will also include a list of my favorite older Hybrid Teas, most of which are pre-1950 cultivars. I am especially fond of the older HT's for their unique character, twiggier growth and more rounded bush form. (Parts two and three will appear in the next few newsletters)

Remontant OGR's
This list was the most difficult to edit down to 12 varieties. Why? Because contrary to the popular mythology that Old Roses are ostensibly once-bloomers, there is a wealth of excellent remontant roses to choose from within this section. The trick, however, is to select varieties that are appropriate for your climate. I had to refrain from including several other superb Teas (not Hybrid Teas, you will note, which are a different class of rose altogether) on this list because they are generally not Winter hardy in climates colder than USDA Zone 7. Some are even tender in Zone 8, and so the true Teas are most useful in southern Texas, California and Florida climates, or must be kept in greenhouses where they will be exposed to only limited cold.

I also refrained from including several of the very beautiful Hybrid Perpetuals (although two superior varieties still appear in the list), which in my experience are more susceptible to Blackspot than many other roses. In a garden that is regularly treated with fungicide sprays, you may want to include some of the Hybrid Perpetuals, for many of them are superb large shrubs with big, luscious blooms and wonderful fragrances. Other excellent varieties you could consider are 'Mrs. John Laing' (light/medium pink), 'Arrillaga' (light pink), 'General Jacqueminot' (crimson), 'Yolande d'Aragon' (medium pink) and 'Eugene Furst' (crimson/purple).

'Rose de Rescht'
Once upon a time this lovely little Damask Perpetual received high praise from me; it could do no wrong. However, the years have dulled my appreciation for this rose some. Yes, its still makes an appearance on my favorites list since I do believe it has some excellent qualities and is an excellent choice for those who are venturing into the Old Roses for the first time. What, exactly, does 'Rose de Rescht' have to offer the modern garden? It is ideal for the smaller garden, for rarely does it exceed 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall. In colder climates it may even remain under 2.5 feet. It is perfectly Winter hardy to at least Zone 5 while still performing admirably in much hotter climes. The 2.5 inch blooms are variable in color from the deepest Fuchsia-purple hue, lighter in hot weather when they often appear a deep pink color. The fragrance is unsurpassed: the richest pure Damask scent that will conjure dreamscapes in your mind's eye. It is fairly care-free in the pruning department; one can leave this tidy shrub un-pruned for years and still obtain excellent results. Some writers have recommended cutting it back hard every five years or so to improve its remontancy but I have not found this to be absolutely necessary. An annual removal of some of the older wood keeps the shrub performing well. If it could be said that 'Rose de Rescht' has any flaws it would be a proneness to Blackspot and sometimes Rust. However, I find that a well-established specimen can hold its own very well in a no-spray garden.

'Paul Neyron'
I once thought this pink rose was a bit ordinary, but you have to know a rose for several years before you can really know its soul. Some roses shout for attention and others seduce you slowly and with subtle charms, and its the slow charmers that make a permanent home for themselves in the gardener's heart. 'Paul Neyron' is precisely such a rose. Make no mistake, it has always received its share of attention from rose writers, and now I feel it is my turn to sing its praise. It produces some of the largest blossoms of any rose in existence; I have seen the occasional solitary bloom that exceeded seven inches in diameter! The plant itself is large and sturdy as well and doesn't hesitate to give several flushes of high quality blooms through the year. A dozen blooms of 'Paul Neyron' requires both arms to carry into the house, providing a vase-full of Victorian splendor the likes of which can inspire jealousy among the most devoted Hybrid Tea growers. Alas, like most all of its kin this rose may require fungicidal sprayings to keep healthy foliage through the entire year. Climate will affect disease pressure and so your results may be better than in other regions.

'Mons. Tillier'
Ahh, how I have come to adore this exquisite Tea rose over the past few years. I now grow 'Mons. Tillier' in my breeding greenhouse in a very large container and my specimen grows beautifully in these conditions. The three-inch blooms are cupped for much of their lives, unfolding from small tight buds to reveal a bowl crammed full of convoluted petals in the soft colors of tropical fruits; oranges, peaches, pinks, yellow tints, all with a deepening overlay of carmine red that intensifies as the bloom ages. The fragrance is typical Tea, often described as “phenolic”, which to my nose has a hint of camphor blended with rose and fruit fragrances. This is a very bushy rose that builds up from year to year, eventually attaining a size of up to 8 or 10 feet in the warmest climates. This is a rose that is most at home in places like Southern California, where it thrives in the heat. Blooms are almost continuous from early Summer till late Fall. I have used this rose in breeding and obtained some spectacular results. Teas like this should not be pruned hard like a modern rose, for if you do it will tend to ruin its natural grace and sometimes the plant sulks and dies. The Teas are best just dead-headed, with the occasional removal of very old wood if it has become unproductive.

This is another of the Oriental roses that is most at home in a warm climate, like its relatives, the Teas. 'Mutabilis', also known as 'Tipo Ideale', is a China rose, thought to have originated in China and is presumed to be well over 100 years old, of not centuries. It is a remarkable rose, with its five-petaled orange blooms that first pale to peach and then start to darken with lacquer-red that finishes a dark muted ruddy red hue. To have a mature shrub covered in hundreds of blooms in every stage of the color shift is truly a remarkable sight. Nobody encounters a specimen of 'Mutabilis' and forgets what they have seen! In Zones 9 and 10, it will grow as a very large shrub or can be trained as a climber up to 20 feet tall. It can be grown in colder areas to Zone 7a with some luck, but it will die back in hard freezes and never achieve the size that it does in warmer gardens. Still, a five foot shrub is a marvelous thing and blooms just as freely as a larger specimen. This is a good rose for those who do not wish to spend a lot of time on annual prunings, for it can do very well with little attention from the secateurs.

'Eugene de Beauharnais'
I almost left this “China” hybrid off the list, because I wish to compile a list of roses that the average rosarian with a few years experience can have great success with. 'Eugene de Beauharnais' isn't a difficult rose to grow, but it does require some patience to grow well. It is never going to be a large shrub; it rarely exceeds 2.5 feet tall. It also has the unfortunate habit of flowering at the expense of making strong growth. Therefore it is suggested that a new plant not be allowed to flower much (or at all!) during its first year's growth. In the second year, limit the plant to ½ of its blooms, pinching off the other ½ of the buds before they get bigger than a pea. This may seem like unusual treatment, but by year three you will be rewarded with a nice specimen that pumps out flush after flush of some of the most beautiful Amaranth-crimson, richly scented blooms you have ever seen or smelled. The perfect bloom of 'Eugene de Beauharnais' will justify in a heartbeat every moment you suffered and slaved over the plant. This is a good rose for a container, since it will always remain small. Depending on your climate and cultural conditions, this rose may need some protection from Blackspot.

'Stanwell Perpetual'
Could this be the perfect “no fuss” pink OGR? The popular belief suggests that this is a hybrid between a remontant Damask, perhaps R. damascena bifera, and some form of R. spinosissima. At a glance its not hard to believe that this is a hybrid between these two roses. 'Stanwell Perpetual' forms a dense shrub about 7 X 7 feet at maturity, under good conditions. Dark purplish-green fern-like leaves clothe the shrub well and rarely exhibit any disease problems. As the name suggests, there is an unending display of bloom throughout the season as long as the plant receives water during hot, dry spells. The flowers are not large, rarely more than 3 inches across. Each double, cupped bloom is a soft blush pink when fresh, fading to white and exuding a high-quality Damask perfume of good intensity. Because the plant is very twiggy, building new growth upon old year after year, few blooms come on stems long enough to make a cut flower, but its real usefulness is as a landscape rose. It is particularly useful in a cottage garden setting, where its species-like charm is most appreciated. The plant is not quick to mature in my experience; it requires a good five years to really come into its own. However, it is a very long-lived rose that is nearly care free and offers much, requiring little. A superb rose in every way.

'Reine des Violettes'/'Indigo'
Here is a rose that I expect will always be high on my list of favorites, for when it offers a dozen perfect blooms of dusty grape-mauve, no other rose can touch it. This is a unique Hybrid Perpetual in several ways. For one, the peculiar grayish-green canes are nearly thornless. It also tends to be one of the most generous with rebloom, especially during the middle of Summer when many other HP's have shut down in the heat. It is also a more twiggy shrub and is easier to manipulate into a rounded, attractive bush, something that is sorely lacking in many other HP's. I find that the most richly colored blooms of 'Reine des Violettes' generally come in the first flush of Spring and the last big flush of Fall when, in both cases, the weather is cooler. It seems the colder temperatures bring our the deeper purple hues. When the blossoms are well colored they are quite remarkable, with hues of the richest Concord grape, deep crimson, smoky mauve and as the bloom ages, even haunting grays are blended in. Some growers have discovered that bloom color can be improved by the application of chelated Iron to the soil a few times a year. I find the fragrance to be somewhat elusive, sometimes quite rich and other times it is mild, although I can always detect some scent. As is the case with all of the HP's, 'Reine des Violettes' has some proneness to Blackspot, but much less so than many of its brethren. Fungicides applied during the wetter part of Spring will easily keep this rose clean and healthy, and the effort, I assure you, is well worth the results.

I had a hard time choosing between 'Reine des Violettes' and the Damask Perpetual 'Indigo', both of which I love. I would suggest that either of these are excellent choices for a remontant purple OGR, the biggest different being the plant habit of the two. 'Indigo' is very much like a Gallica in foliage and overall bush stature, and is smaller and twiggier. Its blooms are generally less double as well, and often more consistently deep purple. I find it a bit more disease resistant also. Both are excellent plants, but if space is limited, 'Indigo' will be the better choice.

'Gloire de Dijon'
A correspondent once told me a story about his Father, who loved this rose above all others and was often moved to tears when gazing upon it in full flush. Now, that is a sentiment I can relate to. I once spent a pleasant Summer morning counting the blooms and opening buds on my plant of 'Gloire de Dijon' when it's first flush was at its peak, and I lost count somewhere around 850. Most of those were open blooms, with more to come. I know of few other remontant climbers of any class that can perform like this. Remember, too, that each glorious peachy-buff bloom is about 3.5 inches across and is packed with well over 100 petals. No wonder it has had a reputation for unsurpassed beauty for nearly 150 years. Now, as magnificent as it is, it is not without its flaws as well. I have grown it as both own-root and grafted on R. multiflora, and it has been a very poor grower on its own roots. I would recommend that you seek out grafted plants only unless you are in warmer parts of California. It can Blackspot badly in climates where disease is prevalent. Neither is it very Winter hardy; I would hesitate to recommend it for climates colder than Zone 7a. (It is one of the Tea-Noisettes, and as such it has inherited some of the tenderness from its Tea ancestors) Still, if you have a conducive climate and are willing to keep the foliage disease free, you can have one of the most exquisite remontant climbers the world has ever known, offering armloads of softly colored, well-scented blooms in several flushes each Summer. I have often cut 30 or so blooms of this rose alone, and arranged them in a bowl or vase and the effect is spellbinding. At times, I too am moved to tears by the beauty of this rose.

The Damask Perpetuals are a wonderful group of roses, and sadly there are so few of them left. Perhaps there never were very many of them, or perhaps they came into being just as the Hybrid Perpetuals were becoming vogue and quickly overshadowed them. Fortunately the survivors are, for the most part, excellent roses. 'Marbrée' is very high on my list of favorites, not just for its unusual medium pink blooms covered in pale spots, but because it is a sturdy shrub, always shapely, vigorous and generous with bloom. Contrary to some writers reports, I find it has a very good fragrance as well. 'Marbrée' is one of the larger Damask Perpetuals, building to a mature size of nearly 5 X 5 feet in many climates. The foliage is handsome and clothes the bush well, exhibiting very good disease resistance for most who grow it. Blooms are 4” in diameter, cupped, with about 40 petals each. They open fully to show stamens, and have that peculiar pale pink spotting and marbling as an added feature. I find it repeats very well, with at least 3 flushes a season, sometimes more, with the occasional few blooms here and there between. As with most DP's, 'Marbrée' is Winter hardy to at least Zone 5. An all-too-often overlooked OGR of great virtue.

'Roseraie de l'Hay'
Recognizing the need to include a remontant OGR for colder climates and no-spray gardens, I chose this beautiful Rugosa. Its breeding is not known but is thought to be a double sport of Rosa rugosa 'Rosea', which many dispute. Introduced in 1901 by the French firm of Cochet-Cochet, and still one of the very best of the double Rugosas. Large (4.5 inch) blooms of 40 or more petals unfold from unusually elongated buds. The color is a very deep purple-crimson hue and to my eyes is a richer color than Rugosas like 'Hansa'. (which I also grow and adore) It is very vigorous and will quickly mature to a shrub of 8 to 12 feet, depending on climate. It remains shapely enough on its own that pruning is rarely necessary to keep it manicured. In fact, removal of spent blooms isn't required either, as 'Roseraie de l'Hay' rarely forms hips. (which is actually a shame, since many of this group set large, colorful hips that are very attractive in the Fall) This rose is not troubled by Blackspot or Mildew and will thrive with little more than the occasional watering. It makes an excellent rose to grow as a hedge and is perfectly Winter hardy to Zone 4 or even colder. Top all that off with one of the richest Clove-like fragrances you are likely to encounter and you have a nearly perfect rose, especially for the gardener that has little time for fussier cultivars.

'Salet'/'René d'Anjou'
It seems almost everyone I know has some memory of a Grandmother growing one of the Mosses in her garden, and I do indeed recall one of the Moss Roses at my own Grandmother's cottage house, growing just outside her kitchen door when I was a child. The sticky, perfumed buds with their peculiar mossing was very memorable to me and undoubtedly explains my fascination with Mosses as an adult and a hybridizer. With the rise of the Damask Perpetuals in the mid-1800's, hybridizers yearned to introduce remontancy into their Moss hybrids. Roses like 'Salet' (1854) and 'René d'Anjou' (1853) are the results of that goal. Although neither of these cultivars is by any means a perfect rose, both have some of the best features to offer within their class. Both are medium to light pinks, very double in traditional OGR form and have a very good fragrance and moderately mossy buds. Both 'Salet' and 'René d'Anjou' are similar shrubs in growth and stature, forming well-rounded bushes about 3 to 4 feet in height and width. Both offer at least 3 flushes of bloom a year and both have good Winter-hardiness in most climates. Both also have some susceptibility to Blackspot however, but in some climates, I have heard reports of these being nearly disease free. Even if you discover that they do need spraying to keep clean, they are both excellent introductions to the Mossy Remontant class.

'Lady Hillingdon'/'Mlle. Franziska Kreuger'/'Clementina Carbonieri'
I believe that any list of favorite remontant OGR's must include at least one Tea rose. Mind you, I mean Tea rose, not Hybrid Tea. There is a huge difference between the two! (True Teas predate the Hybrid Tea, and Hybrid Teas resulted from crosses between Hybrid Perpetuals and Teas) The true Teas are a race of roses that originated in China, arriving in Europe in the late 1700's as a horticultural bonus of Tea importation. As these roses are adapted to the Chinese climate, they are sensitive to cold and are best in the southern states where frosts are rare events. Some of the Teas will tolerate some freezing, but not without some damage.

I've already listed one other Tea, but it is more in the peachy-red color range. I also wanted to recommend one of the many excellent yellow-orange varieties. Most OGR fans are well acquainted with 'Lady Hillingdon' of 1909, with its rich yolk-yellow blooms. It is truly a beautiful plant when it likes its environment, but really needs heat to prosper. 'Mlle. Franziska Kreuger' is a similar shrub, with very double nodding blooms packed full of crumpled orange-buff petals. But it will remain under 4 feet whereas 'Lady Hillingdon' can easily reach 8 or more. 'Clementina Carbonieri' is another excellent Tea with fully double globular blossoms in a luscious fruit-colored orange-red-buff combination. These roses do not generally have the strong fragrances of their Damask cousins, but they do have a distinctive scent. To my nose, many of them have a pleasant fruity fragrance with strong camphor-like tones as well. To some it is an acquired taste, but a fragrance that most growers come to like a great deal.

'Souvenir de la Malmaison'/'Duchesse du Rohan'
Once upon a time I would have said that my top ten list would always have 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' on it somewhere. Although I still love this rose when it is performing well, it isn't always generous with its perfect blooms, nor is it always a trouble-free plant. In the wetness of late Spring the heavily double blossoms are easily ruined before they can open properly. I prefer to grow 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' in the greenhouse now, where I can control the climate conditions. It seems to benefit from the additional heat buildup under plastic, encouraging the somewhat thin petals to unfold well. In warm, dry climates, 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' can be astonishingly beautiful with a nearly endless display of the finest highly fragrant blooms that justify its alternate name, 'Queen of Beauty and Fragrance'. Under ideal conditions this Bourbon rose will build up to about 3 by 3 feet, although I have seen it gradually build to as much as 7 feet tall. In colder climates it is quite tender and will freeze to the snowline, but even so it will make a tidy shrub of about 2.5 feet each year.

Perhaps a better rose for the zones below 7 is the excellent 'Duchesse de Rohan'. Depending on which authority you consult, this rose is classed as either a Centifolia, a Hybrid Perpetual or a Damask Perpetual (Portland Damask). Although I have previously listed it as a Centifolia, following Peter Beales suggestion, I now think it is more properly thought of as a Hybrid Perpetual of sorts, although it is curiously unlike the rest of the class, with its smaller, twiggier stature and more compact growth. Regardless of its proper classification, it has become one of my favorite remontant pink OGR's over the past five years. It has not exceeded 4 by 4 feet, remaining a rounded shrub with foliage right down to the base, giving at least three flushes of bloom per year. The medium pink blossoms are very full, about 4 inches across each and although they generally appear in clusters of three or so, the stronger new growths can bear clusters of up to 10 blooms. There must be at least 100 petals to each bloom and the fragrance ranks among the top five of all the roses I grow: pure Damask of the highest quality and intensity. 'Duchesse de Rohan' has been hardy to the very tips every year in my experience and I expect it would perform admirably to at least zones 5 without any fuss. It does get some Blackspot during wet weather episodes, but is far more disease resistant than the average Hybrid Tea.

Part Two, a discussion of my favorite non-remontant OGR's will appear in the April edition.

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