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…

photo 4



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…

Garden Walk: Outside the Potting Shed

We are being blessed with an amazing morning! So, I decided to create a video to share with you.

So come along as I go on my morning garden walk through the beds outside my potting shed

I just wish you could enjoy the subtle, sweet fragrance of Harison’s Yellow.

Thanks for stopping by!

For other videos of the garden, click here.

Bags are Packed!

My bags are packed and tomorrow I head out to P. Allen Smith’s Garden 2 Blog 2013. I am more than excited!


There is so much I am looking forward to and not in the least is getting to tour Allen’s rose garden. You know how I am about roses! Allen’s rose garden is about 2 acres. 2 ACRES!

Here is a video taken during the construction of the garden.

Can you believe it??

Allen has been sharing some beautiful pictures of the garden on Facebook this week. What a treat this is going to be!

Stay tuned, I will be posting loads of pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Follow along!

Allen's Garden...
Allen’s Garden…
Sarah Van Fleet.... Ohhhh la la
Sarah Van Fleet…. Ohhhh la la

Rose Parade: Celsiana

Celsiana_2Here is the enchanting and very fragrant Celsiana blooming in my garden today. Many of you were aghast when you saw this picture on Twitter given that I garden in Zone 5b. The truth is, Celsiana was adopted this year from Guinivere Wiley of Roses of Yesterday and Today. She’s a Cali girl–thus the early start!

I have drooled over this rose in catalogs for years and decided this was the year to adopt one… actually I adopted two. 🙂

Guinivere sent me the most beautiful plants and I protected them through some very cold days and nights. But baby look at her now. She is truly enchanting!

Here’s what the Roses of Yesterday and Today online catalog says of Celsiana

Prior to 1750
4-5 feet
One annual flowering
Zones 4-9

The subject of one of Redoute’s most beautiful rose portraits, and a rose to inspire any artist. Leigh Barr Stamler, St. Louis, MO, says, “Celsiana is incredibly beautiful –
arching canes loaded with soft, lovely roses in the most perfect shade of pink! I sit on the grass in front of her for long minutes every spring, drinking in her beauty.”

A graceful plant with smooth, grey-green foliage and clusters of 4 inch warm pink flowers . . . which open wide with a special crisp twirl of crinkled petals showing tall yellow stamens.  True damask fragrance . . . if you plan to make potpourri, this rose should be included in your order.

I would highly recommend you adopt at least one Celsiana for your garden!

How can you resist….


Rose Parade: The Grande Dame

The Grande Dame in my garden Summer 2012
The Grande Dame in my garden Summer 2012

The Grande Dame is a lovely and very fragrant hybrid tea.

Here’s what Weeks Roses has to say about this 2011 release…

Grande Dame…

Everything old is new again … or is it the other way around?

Here’s a clean mean flowering machine whose big bountiful beauties reek with old rose romance, style & fragrance. Each lovely blossom invites you to bury your nose…to swoon from the perfume of the ‘old time’ roses of your dreams. A big vigorous ‘shrubby’ bush whose nodding clusters, abundant deep-green leaves & low-thorned cutting stems provide a perfect touch to a landscape or bouquet.

  • Height / Habit: Tall/Upright & bushy
  • Bloom / Size: Full, old-fashioned, in nodding clusters
  • Petal count: Over 30 broad petals
  • Parentage: Meredith x Wild Blue Yonder
  • Fragrance: Intense old rose
  • Hybridizer: Carruth – 2011
  • Comments: A modern antique for all climates.

Mixing old and new is what my garden is all about!

Here is the Grande Dame in my garden last summer. Stunning!

IMG_7023 IMG_7190

I now have 3 of these lovelies!

Rose Parade: Roseraie de l’Hay

Roseraie de l’Hay

Roseraie de l’Hay is a rugosa rose introduced in 1901 and was named for the French rose garden of the same name.

Technically rugosa roses are species roses native to eastern Asia, but to me they are a bit of heaven on earth.

I have several of these beauties in my Zone 5b garden. When these roses are blooming our entire garden is filled with their beautiful fragrance. If someone new visits our garden during this time, the first question is always, What is that?

In addition to beauty and fragrance, the upside to rugosa roses–they are tough, trouble free and need very little maintenance. But, you need some room because these beauties grow to be around 6′ X 5′ in my garden. An extra bonus … rugosas produce large red-orange rose hips that are very high in Vitamin C and I am told make great jelly. We just let the birds enjoy them.

Roseraie de l’Hay is a good repeat bloomer for me, but nothing compares to that first bloom of early summer … see video below!

USDA Hardiness Zones 3 – 9.

Roses … Old and New

There are many types of roses from species (wild) and old garden varieties (OGRs) to the modern hybrids and landscape roses. And I love them all. I can honestly say that every class of rose is beautiful to me. Each has their strengths and their weaknesses.

OGRs are any roses grown prior to 1867 when the first Hybrid Tea, La France, was introduced. Most Species and OGRs have a one-time blooming season most usually in late spring or early summer. But what a season it is. Hundreds and hundreds of wonderfully fragrant blooms! This is something I wait all winter for!

The modern Hybrid Tea, Floribunda and Grandiflora roses produce blooms in waves throughout the summer and early fall. Many of these are fragrant as well, but the blooms are on longer stems that make them very popular in the world of florists.

Modern shurb or landscape roses give us disease resistance and season long blooms and fit very well in most any landscape or garden.

Here is a brief description of the most common types of roses…


Albas are tall, slender, upright bushes producing flowers of blush pink or white. Albas are very hardy and thrive under difficult conditions, even partial shade. They are almost completely disease-resistant and require little pruning. These roses have a strong, rich perfume. I have Felicite Parementier on order for next year. Another beautiful Alba is Madam Plantier.

Felicite Parementier


Bourbons were the roses of Victorian England. They produce beautiful, large, full old rose blooms on vigorous growing bushes with blooms of wonderful, heady fragrance. Many Bourbons repeat bloom. One of my favorite bourbons is Bourbon Queen although it does not repeat bloom for me.

However, when she blooms, she blooms. Last year I sent a picture of Bourbon Queen in bloom to The American Rose Society and she was chosen to be in the 2013 calendar. So, you could say the Bourbon Queen is a calender girl.

Bourbon Queen


Also known as Cabbage Roses have large blooms of many petals. Centifolia means 100 petals. These roses are summer flowering and extremely fragrant! I don’t have any Centifolias (yet), but there are two that are standouts in the rose catalogs–Fantin Latour and Tour de Malakoff.


Damask roses are very old, having been grown in Biblical times. They are known for their distinctive, rich damask perfume and beautiful pink or white blooms. My favorite Damask rose is Madam Hardy … amazingly fragrant white blooms with a unique green eye.
The Damasks I grow are Rose de Rescht and Madam Hardy.

Madam Hardy was named for the wife of Empress Josephine’s head gardener … Mr. Hardy. 🙂

Madam Hardy


These roses combine the best qualities of their parents–hybrid teas and ployantha roses. From the polyanthas come increased hardiness, low growing habit and continuous bloom and from hybrid teas they inherit their flower form and foliage. I have several favorite floribundas … three favs in my garden are Gene Boerner, Bill Warriner and Janice Kellogg.

Bill Warriner
Bill Warriner up close
Gene Boerner
Janice Kellogg


David Austin’s English roses came on the scene in the 1960s. The first English rose, the fragrant Constance Spry, was released in 1961. This new breed of rose combines the form and fragrance of the old roses with the repeat blooming and wider range of color of the hybrid roses. Two of my favorite David Austin English roses are Mary Rose and Charlotte.

And I’m adding a few more this year. You can read my thoughts on David Austin and his roses here. I’ll warn you, I am totally infatuated!



Gallicas are the oldest of the garden roses, having been grown by the Greeks and Romans! Gallicas are spring blooming shrubs with wonderfully fragrant blooms of pink, red and even some purples. My favorite Gallica is Rosa Mundi …. the earliest known stripped rose that dates back to the 1500s.

Legend has it that Rosa Mundi was named after Fair Rosa- mund, a mistress of Henry II, England’s monarch from 1154 to 1189. In The Book of Old Roses, Trevor Griffiths tells the story of their tragic affair. Henry was forced to marry a princess who, brooking no competition, is said to have murdered the lovely Rosamund. By Henry’s order, Rosamund was buried at Godstow Nunnery near Oxford, England, and each year on the anniversary of her death, he ordered her tomb to be decorated with masses of Rosa Mundi. -Virginia Kean / Historical Rose Society

Rosa Mundi


This group of roses is the result of crossing between hybrid teas and floribundas. The flower form and long stems are carried from the hybrid teas and the increased hardiness and abundance of flowers of the floribundas. One of my favorite grandifloras is Gold Medal.

Gold Medal


These roses were developed as hardy garden plants between 1840 and 1900, by crossing the Portland, Bourbon and Gallica roses and were mostly used as cut flowers. My favorite Hybrid Perpetual is Reine Des Violettes (Queen of Violettes).

Reine des Violette


Hybrid Tea roses are the most widely grown roses and most used as “florist” roses. Long, narrow buds open into full delicate blooms on long, sturdy stems. Blooming occurs in waves from early summer until frost. My favorite Hybrid Tea… well today… is the Peace Rose. Chrysler Imperial put on a show this summer too.

I am adding several new HT’s this year as I make my way into the world of rose exhibitionists. Read on for details.

Chrysler Imperial


Is a class of roses that originated in Charleston, South Carolina prior to 1812. John Champney, a rice farmer, received ‘Old Blush‘ from his neighbor Philippe Noisette, the superintendent of the SC Medical Society’s Botanical Garden. Champney crossed Old Blush with Rosa Moschata and Champney’s Pink was born. John Champney gave Philippe seedlings of ‘Champney’s Pink and Phillippe sent plants to his brother in France and the rage was on!

While visiting the Church of the Intersession in NYC last summer, I saw Champney’s Pink blooming in their enchanting garden. I couldn’t help but fall in love with this dainty, beautiful, fragrant rose steeped in history. I understand it is hardy to Zone 6. My garden is in Zone 5 but that is pretty close so I may have to try one. It would be such a nice addition to my old rose collection. Here is Champney’s Pink growing in the NYC garden…

Champney's Pink
Champney’s Pink


Polyantha roses are a cross between two East Asian species (Rosa chinensis and R. multiflora). The plants are compact and bushy and are rarely without blooms. My only polyantha is The Fairy Rose and this rose has been around since 1932. I love the clusters of tiny pink blooms. They look so nice in a mixed bokay of roses! These plants are very low maintenance and disease resistant!

The Fairy Rose


Portland roses are a natural cross between Damasks and China roses so you can imagine how wonderfully fragrant they are. These roses are vigorous growers, and were one of the first of the repeat bloomers. I grow Comte de Chambord and it has a fragrance that wows!

Comte de Chambord
Comte de Chambord


Rugosa roses are species roses native to eastern Asia. These roses are tough, trouble free shrubs that need very little maintenance and produce masses of beautiful, highly fragrant blooms. Rugosas are good repeat bloomers. An added bonus is the large red-orange hips produced in the last days of summer. My favorite Rugosa is Roseraie de l’ Hay. I have several of these in my garden! But, I also love my RF Grootendorst and Hansas! I also grow a white rugosa, Blanc Double de Coubert.

Blanc Double de Coubert in the background


From Knockouts – Drifts, there are many shrub roses on the market today. These roses are disease resistant, prolific bloomers that fit well into most any landscape. Some of my favorite shrub roses are Carefree Wonder, Sunny Knockout and Amber Flower Carpet.

A great resource for these roses is Paul Zimmerman’s book Everyday Roses. Easy growing tips and beautiful pictures of roses in home landscapes.

Carefree Wonder
Sunny Knockout
Amber Carpet


The Species and Hybrid Species roses are the original rose varieties found in nature from which all the others have been bred. The flowers are single (5 petals). One of the earliest of these roses is Rosa Foetida. One of the first yellow roses was the species rose–Persian Yellow.

I have a hybrid rose cultivar which originated as a chance hybrid seedling of Rosa Foetida… Harison’s Yellow. Read all about Harison’s Yellow HERE.

Harison’s Yellow

If you are looking for more information or for specific roses, here are some great resources…

American Rose Society
David Austin Roses
Roses of Yesterday and Today
Heirloom Roses
Weeks Roses
Paul Zimmerman Roses
Certified Roses
Conard Pyle / Star Roses
Edmunds Roses
Witherspoon Rose Culture

David Austin and Me

For the past 20 years I have had a secret crush. His name is David Austin. He lives in England. He grows roses. Actually, he creates roses. He even created a new kind of rose … English roses … blending Old Garden Roses for form and fragrance with modern roses for repeat blooming and increased range of color. To me that is the perfect combination! Who wouldn’t be smitten!

My favorite one (for the moment) is Charlotte or is it Gertrude Jekyll … or it could be Mary Rose or Crocus Rose on any given day. All are beautiful, charming and sooooo fragrant.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Michael Marriott of David Austin Roses on Rose Chat Radio who talked about the new releases for 2013. Listen here.


Wollerton Old Hall

Wollerton Old Hall

Wollerton Old Hall is the most fragrant new variety and, indeed, one of the most fragrant of all English Roses. Its distinctive strong myrrh scent has a delicious citrus element. Plump buds, with attractive flashes of red, open to form beautiful chalice-shaped blooms of soft apricot, eventually paling to cream. It forms a particularly healthy and bushy shrub with few thorns.

Lady Salisbury

Lady Salisbury

Lady Salisbury exhibits great Old Rose charm, with some of the character of the Alba Roses. Rich rose pink buds open to reveal pure pink flowers, which gradually become a softer shade as the flowers age. There is a light fragrance. ‘Lady Salisbury’ flowers with remarkable continuity from early summer on.

Fighting Temeraire

Fighting Temeraire

Fighting Temeraire is a very different English Rose. The fully open flowers are very large at 4” to 5″ across, each with only 12 petals. The flowers are a rich apricot color with an area of yellow behind the stamens which later pales to a soft yellow-apricot.

England’s Rose

England’s Rose

England’s Rose is a particularly tough and reliable variety. Deep glowing pink flowers are held in large clusters, the outer petals eventually reflexing back to reveal an attractive button eye.

The Lady’s Blush

The Lady’s Blush

The Lady’s Blush is a charming semi-double variety with delicate natural beauty. The flowers start as elegant pointed buds and develop into rounded cups in pure soft pink with a creamy white eye and often a white stripe.

Queen Anne

Queen Anne

Queen Anne is a rose of classic Old Rose beauty, but rather more in the direction of the Centifolias or Bourbons. The medium-sized flowers are pure rose pink, the outer petals only slightly paler than the central ones. In habit, ‘Queen Anne’ is quite upright and bushy, with few thorns.


Visiting this amazing garden is definitely on my “bucket list”.

If you’d like to see a recent video of the David Austin gardens in England, watch this…

I am adding several of these new roses to my garden next year…

  • England’s Rose
  • The Lady’s Blush
  • Lady Salisbury

And, here’s the man himself….

Thank you Mr. Austin for such beautiful additions to our gardens!

David Austin

Follow David Austin Roses on Twitter @DavidAustinHome.

Standing the Test of Time

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…

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Rosa Mundi
Rosa Mundi