Types of roses:

Roses are blooming everywhere now, and it's time to look around and choose what you like. There is no better way to see what is out there than by visiting botanical gardens or the gardens of rose enthusiasts and seeing all different kinds of roses in full bloom. There are many types of roses and when you try to pick out roses at a nursery, or read about them in gardening books it can be confusing. This combined with the fact that many modern roses are usually named after their breeders, and then categorized into types can be especially daunting. Mankind has loved the rose forever, I think, and have been fooling around trying to improve them about as long. Just to show what I mean, a rose is considered modern if it was bred since 1867!

Currently, some popular rose breeders are Wilhelm Kordes, Dave Austin, Griffith Buck, and here in Taylor we have our own local rose breeders Ray Ponton and Robert Stiba who have their own Ponton and Stiba roses. Rose breeders come out with all types of roses that will be in different categories. Not all Austin or Buck roses look the same. Lets take a look at modern categories of roses: There are shrub roses, climbing and rambler roses, hybrid tea roses, floribunda, polyantha, grandiflora, hybrid musk, tree roses, English roses, and miniature roses. Hybrid tea roses are most familiar, for these are the florists' favorite rose, with a single large spiraled bloom per stem, and they come in nearly every color blend. Now-a-days home gardeners are demanding a more disease resistant rose than what most hybrid teas were in the past. The result of this demand has been the development of Griffith Buck roses, Dave Austin roses, Wilhelm Kordes roses, and the very popular Knockout roses. These breeders have utilized every conceivable cross of roses imaginable, and nearly all include the Old Garden roses in their ancestry.

The old garden roses also come in many categories, are less familiar, and cause even more confusion than the modern roses. Although none are perfect, the old garden roses have stood the test of time for their disease resistance, hardiness, wonderful fragrances, and last but not least, are beloved just for their romantic history. The pre-China roses are the oldest hybridized group that date pre-1800. These roses do not have the China rose in their heritage and they include the Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, Centifolias (cabbage rose), and Moss roses. These roses were crossed with each other and wild species roses. Many of these roses only bloom in the spring. Then in about 1800 the China rose was crossed with those above and we came up with the tea, Bourbon, Noisette, Damask Perpetual, and Hybrid perpetual roses. These roses bloom throughout the summer with a big flush in spring and fall.

It would be fun to talk about all the different roses listed above, but since that would become a book, let's just talk about the Bourbon rose as a tasty 'smakeral' just to whet your appetite. Bourbon roses were a cross between a China and a Damask rose that was supposed to have occurred naturally on the Bourbon Isle in the Indian Ocean. They have large, many peteled flowers that are usually highly fragrant and are repeat bloomers. The form of the Bourbon rose bush can vary greatly from great big arching shrubs, 18 ft tall, to small neat bushy shrubs, 2 ft tall. Bourbon roses range in color from red, white, and pink blends. One of my favorite Bourbon roses is Mme. Souvenir de la Petite Malmaison. This shrub is my definition of what a rose should be. My bush is a spreading shrub wider than it is tall, 4.5x6 ft, and has large, rather flat, densely petaled powder puff pink flowers with a spicy fragrance out of this world. It blooms repeatedly throughout the summer, with it's biggest flush in the spring and fall. This was Queen Marie Antoinette's favorite rose named after her country house palace in France. The name in French means 'Souvenir of the Little House' which was really a palace, and not very little.
For more information, browse the Santa Clarita Rose society website for pictures and definitions of old garden roses.