Varieties of Antique Roses
Species roses are generally defined as those roses found in nature. Most species roses tend to be very vigorous and are extremely disease resistant. They are a good choice for naturalizing and will often grow well without attention if planted properly and given minimal care during the first year or so of their establishment. Although many are climbers, with a minimum of pruning and training they can be grown as hefty shrubs.
One of the East's greatest revealed secret secured by western civilization was neither gunpowder nor printing but the everblooming rose. These new roses brought with them two characteristics heretofore unknown to the West: yellow flowers and remontancy.
One of the best pink forms of R. chinensis to pass into European hands after 1752 was know by many names including Old Blush or Parson's Pink China. Until the introduction of China roses, the Europeans knew just one species with some bloom in the fall. The rest of their roses were spring bloomers. Understandably, they were quite excited when the reblooming trait of these roses was bred into many of its descendants which include Bourbons, Noisettes and Polyanthas.
China roses can become large bushes at maturity and are likely to live a very long time. They are used as hedges, specimen plants and in borders. Chinas can tolerate heat that makes them well suited for growing in the South.
The first truly American class of roses originating in the United States, the Noisettes comprise a group of graceful repeat-flowering shrubs and climbers. The older varieties with their small flowers and the later, larger flowered Noisettes (with much Tea influence) are all elegant, highly fragrant roses. They have the ability to create a landscape effect unique among roses when trained on walls, fences, arbors or even trees. Immensely popular and well adapted in the South, Noisettes are truly the "Aristocrats of the Old South."
The Bourbon rose class resulted from a natural cross between 'Old Blush' and 'Autumn Damask,' both planted as hedges on the French island of Bourbon, now known as Reunion. Bourbons have an old-fashioned cupped or quartered bloom, generally in pastel pinks with tough, blue-green foliage on a husky bush. These low to medium size shrubs bear blooms of intense fragrance. Because of their China bloodline, Bourbons succeed wonderfully in the South, being heat and drought tolerant. However, due to their Damask blood, they are also very cold tolerant.
The tea roses are so named because the original teas had a strong green tea-like fragrance. Teas have an upright habit, forming tall and sometimes narrow bushes with bronzy red new foliage. In the south, they bloom profusely in spring and fall with scattered summer flowers. Blossoms are spectacular and large in pastel shades of pink and yellow with some reds and whites. Fragrance is distinctive and cool.
Hybrid Perpetual Roses
Some of the most valuable, historic and delightful roses are included in the Hybrid Perpetual class. Their virtues include cold hardiness, outstanding rose fragrance, and large, full flowers. Despite their name, many varieties only bloom in the spring. They are great cut flowers and this class is the precursor to the Hybrid Tea class.
The Polyantha class was the result of crossing china roses with the rambling Japanese Multiflora rose. The everblooming characteristic and compact shape are two traits seen in this class. Polyanathas are hardy, disease resistant and floriferous. Their dwarf and compact nature lends themselves well when used as low borders, mass plantings or in containers.
The first Hybrid Tea, 'La France', changed the future of the rose. From then on, the focus of rose breeders was to create the perfectly shaped flower. All interest was lost in the earlier classes of roses.
Hybrid Musk Roses
Rev Joseph Pemberton bred one of the R. moschata families with certain Hybrid Teas and Polyanthas to establish this distinctive rose class. In the Rose Annual for 1968, Graham Stuart Thomas summed up the Hybrid Musk class: "Unless some keen spirit is prepared to produce some richly coloured shrub rose along the lines adopted by Pemberton, I think this group should remain as it is: carefree flowering shrubs of the greatest value for our gardens at midsummer or later, delightfully fragrant, in a fair range of colours and of superb value for hedging. Considered as such, Joseph Pemberton served us well." This class includes some of the most useful roses available for landscape purposes.