Bourbons … some of the Old Beauties

Bourbons were the roses of Victorian England and probably originated from a natural cross between Old Blush (China Rose) and Quatre Saisons (Damask), two roses which were used as hedge material on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion). They produce beautiful, large, full old rose, crepe-like blooms on vigorous growing bushes. These blooms have a wonderful, heady fragrance and many Bourbons repeat bloom.

One of my favorite Bourbons is Queen of Bourbons (sometimes called Bourbon Queen) although it does not repeat bloom for me in my Zone 5b garden–when she blooms, she BLOOMS!

Last year I sent a picture of the Queen of Bourbons to The American Rose Society and she was chosen to be in the 2013 calendar. So, you could say my Queen of Bourbons is a calendar girl.

I think she took her calendar girl status to heart and upped her game because she went from beautiful last year to magnificent this year. I may have to send another picture or two to ARS.

With her neighbors...
With her neighbors…

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Reaching for the clouds……

Peter and the Old Beauties

I often say that I have never met a rose I didn’t want. And, though that may be true, it is the old roses like the Bourbons that legendary rosarian, Peter Beales’, referred to as the Old Beauties—they are my very favorites.

Old Beauties are survivors.
Old Beauties are beautiful.
Old Beauties are enchanting.
Old Beauties are incredibly fragrant.
Old Beauties have a rich history.

As I write today in my Potting Shed, I have on my desk a bucket of Old Beauties. Yes, I think Peter had them aptly named.

Old Beauties


Purchasing Bourbons and other Old Beauties….

Rose Petal Nursery
Antique Rose Emporium

Other articles you might enjoy…

Roses Old & New…
Buying Roses & Rose Products…

Mr. Harison: Past … Present … Future

THE PAST

About 25 years ago my obsession with the Harison’s Yellow rose began when a friend in Tennessee gave my husband a cutting of a rose that had been passed through their family for generations.

We were young gardeners and weren’t quite sure what to do to ensure Mr. Harison got a good start in our newly planted rose garden.

Mr. G’s grandmother was in her 80’s at this time and had always had beautiful gardens. She had a lot of great advice for us on many things especially on all things gardening!

So, we asked her what to do with the cutting. (See her advice below.)

Harrison's Yellow in my garden ... Spring 2013
Harrison’s Yellow in my garden … Spring 2013
Harison’s Yellow … One of the first to bloom in the spring.

About Mr. Harison

George Folliott Harison, a NYC attorney, created this rose in his Manhattan garden in the 1830s. The planting is now a part of the Heritage Rose District of NYC.

About the Harison’s Yellow Rose

The nurseryman William Prince of Long Island took cuttings and marketed the rose in 1830.

Harison’s Yellow is also known as the Oregon Trail Rose and the Yellow Rose of Texas. This beauty was lovingly taken by pioneer women across the wilderness to their new homes in the west … packed away with other valuables, tender cuttings and roots were stowed in buckets, rooted in potatoes and even in tea cups. I have heard Harison’s Yellow can be found all along the pioneer trail. Don’t you just love that! Roses are true survivors!

Coming Full Circle

Last week while visiting my daughter in NYC we toured the lovely courtyard garden at the Church of the Intercession at the invitation of Stephen Scanniello, (Heritage Rose Foundation).

The garden is filled with lovely old roses in a picturesque setting. 

Hybrid musk roses filled the air with intoxicating old rose fragrance!

Champney’s Pink Noisette

In the back of the church is a graveyard and … guess who is buried there? Yes, it is true, Mr. Harison is buried there… As I stood in front of his gravestone, I felt as though he was a member of my family. The gravestone says he was a gentlemen. I love that … and I sure hope he knows how much I love his rose and that I am committed to sharing it with others.

This graveyard is peppered with beautiful stones, fences, gates, flowers and roses.  And is also home to the grave site of John James Audubon, the French-American ornithologist, naturalist and painter.

THE PRESENT

Harison’s Yellow Spring 2012….

THE FUTURE

The Story Continues

This weekend we are taking cuttings from our Harison’s Yellow rose. Hopefully this will be a rose that is passed through our generations.

We have learned a lot since we took that first cutting, but I’m still gonna assign Mr. G the task of watcher and waterer. He did such a great job before! 🙂

Grandma’s Advice

Grandma Levis told us to take a small piece of the cutting and cut an X in the end of the stem, dip in root tone, plant in a small pot and cover the pot with a ball jar. Watch it closely and keep moist but not wet. And wait.


Yes, some things are worth waiting for, worth preserving and worth passing on.