As many of you know I have loved roses since I was a teenager but I didn’t start my dive into old and historical roses until the 80s when I read the journal of a young woman who left the comfort of her home to join her husband in a journey west. One of the experiences she described was painstakingly taking cuttings of the roses and plants she just couldn’t live without. As I read her story, I felt as though I was going on the journey with her. Roses were not just for beauty to the women of this era. They were also a source of flavoring and vitamin C (from their hips). Even the most thorny roses were of value as they were used as living fences to protect vegetable gardens and such.
Also during this time we were given Harison’s Yellow (Hybrid Foetida) rose from a friend in Tennessee who had received it from a family member in Ohio. We learned that this rose had been passed through their family for some time. I started doing some investigation and found out just where the rose originated. You can read the history of Harison’s Yellow here.
I continue to love old garden and historical roses and have several in my garden. What a joy it is to visit gardens that have these lovely old beauties. One such garden is definitely on my garden bucket list … The award-winning Sacramento City Cemetery Rose Garden. This garden is home to old or antique roses collected from cemeteries, old home sites and along roadsides in northern California. The establishment of the garden was done by Fred Boutin, an internationally recognized rosarian and authority on “found roses,” and Jean Travis, a member of the Heritage Rose Group. Members of this group work to collect, plant and maintain these roses which were popular from the California Gold Rush era through the Victorian/Edwardian era (1850-1915). The collection now includes more than 400 plants–over 200 varieties.
For those of you who love fragrant roses, these roses are some of the most fragrant roses that exist.
You can imagine how thrilled I was to have Anita Clevenger, Curator of this garden, with us on Rose Chat. Did you know that cemeteries used to be a place to gather for picnics regularly? Hear about that and more by clicking on the Rose Chat logo below.
If you live in the the Sacramento area, their annual Open Day in the Garden event is in April. They have many activities planned including the ever popular Rose Sale! Hundreds of roses are available and they always sell out. So, it pays to get there early! 🙂
For the list of other events in the garden this year, read on.
I wanted to share with you my morning in the garden photographing Roseraie. So far I have taken about 30 stills and 3 videos (see one below). I love this rose!
As you go through the garden gate the large magenta rose you see is Roseraie De L’ Hay. This beautiful Rugosa rose is so fragrant it will perfume our entire garden. This year it was damaged by the 2 or 3 nights of 24 degrees and I have literally picked 60 – 70 dead buds. Can you imagine how many blooms we would have w/o that nasty frost. Oh well, today I am celebrating all the blooms that were spared. Luckily this is a Rugosa that repeats fairly well and in the fall produces the most amazing rose hips, so I have an entire season to enjoy. This is truly one of my all thyme favorite roses.
If you are interested in purchasing a Rugosa you might check out Heirloom Roses or Roses of Yesterday. They are tall bushes that like to spread out, so give them lots of room!
Many years ago I fell completely in love with the charm, fragrance and rich history of old roses. Even though I grow many modern roses, my heart strings are attached to the ones that have been around for a very long time and that give us an explosion of bloom in the late spring, filling our gardens with the wonderful fragrance by which all other roses are compared.
Four of my favorites… (pictures are below)
Madam Isaac Pereire is a lovely Bourbon rose. Bourbons were the roses of Victoria England. The blooms are exquisite with a wonderful old rose fragrance. And, on occasion, you are rewarded with a few repeat blooms.
Madam Hardy is a Damask rose dating back to 1832 and has a beautiful white bloom with a green dot in the center. Damask roses are known for their rich perfume. Madam Hardy is named for the wife of the head gardener in Empress Josephine’s (first wife of Napoleon) Malmaison garden. Empress Josephine was a zealous rose collector. (She had to keep busy while the hubs was out fighting the wars.)
Rosa Mundi is a Gallica rose–the oldest of the garden roses having been grown by the Greeks and Romans. Not only is Rosa Mundi unique in that she is the first striped rose, she has a past. Legends tell us that she was named for Henry II’s mistress, Fair Rosamund, and was placed on her grave after his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had her poisoned. Tsk Tsk. Regardless, she is a very unusual rose and very charming.
Bourbon Queen is a Bourbon rose from France that dates back to 1834 and has been charming me since I bought her in 1990 at the Newburgh General Store in Newburgh, Indiana. She is highly scented and stunning to see.
On a practical note, these historical beauties are hardy even in poor conditions and they require very little care. If you would like to try an old rose in your garden, they are easy to find online…