The era of the modern rose began—officially—with the
introduction of the first hybrid tea rose in 1867. Since then, countless rose
cultivars have been bred and sold to the public. But for some reason, when I
think of modern roses, I think of post-World War II cultivars. The most famous
rose of this generation is 'Peace'-a rose that remains a classic to this day.
When we bought our house in Southeast Seattle in 1992, there was a 'Peace' rose
growing by the front steps. It has had some good years and some bad years, but
it never fails to offer beautiful flowers in summer, regardless of the
treatment I give it.
In the past two issues, I've discussed the different
classes of ancient and old garden roses. In the modern era, new categories of
roses were created. Here's an overview:
Hybrid Tea Rose
teas are the most popular type of rose the world
has seen-no doubt due to their large flowers, elegant pointed flower buds, and
their willingness to produce flowers all through the growing season. 'Peace' is
a member of this class, introduced in 1942 by the legendary French rose company
Meilland. This famous rose was named to commemorate the end of the second world
war. The flowers of hybrid tea roses became popular with florists, and today we
expect the large flowers and long stems when we send roses to a special person.
Bess' differs from the classic hybrid tea: she
has single flowers. This plant remains popular, though, because the pink blooms
are accented with a large boss of maroon stamens. Different, yes-and
beautiful. 'Just Joey' is another
deservedly popular hybrid tea. Its large coppery-orange flowers are loosely
double and have good fragrance. Joey's flower color and form is unique, even
among orange-flowered hybrid teas.
The drawbacks of hybrid teas are their susceptibility
black spot and often, their lack of fragrance. If you're willing to do the
research, you can find hybrid teas that will thrive and beautify the garden.
It's important to do your homework, though!
Floribunda & Grandiflora Rose
Floribundas and grandifloras share many characteristics
with the hybrid tea rose, including large flowers and repeat-blooming. But
instead of one blossom per long stem, floribundas offer clusters of good-sized
A healthy floribunda with pristine white flowers is
'Iceberg'. In mild winters, I'll have flowers on my 'Iceberg' after Halloween.
A popular (deservedly so) grandiflora rose is 'Queen Elizabeth' a pure pink
rose that blooms profusely in summer. This rose can grow to great heights if
not pruned. Though it happily tolerates hard pruning to rejuvenate it when
needed. Another widely grown floribunda is 'Sexy Rexy'. The double pink,
fragrant flowers open flat on a very manageable three-foot shrub.
In case you're wondering,
the grandiflora classification
is recognized only by the American Rose Society. In European references, these
roses are grouped together with the floribundas. The habits of both are
Shrub rose is a catch-all
category for roses that just
don't fit into any other classification. Shrub roses, characteristically, are
healthy plants that are relatively easy to grow with little maintenance. Some
shrub roses are sold under brand names that identify them as low-maintenance,
disease-resistant plants. They are similar to groundcover roses, but are larger
plants. Some examples of shrub roses are:
The Knock Out Rose(r) was bred by William
American rosarian who became obsessed with breeding truly maintenance-free
roses. He went so far as to grind up diseased rose leaves to apply to his rose
garden, thereby inoculating the plants with black spot. In this way, he could
see which plants were truly disease-resistant. In 2000, the The knock out rose
received an AARS award. Knock out roses come in two shades: dark pink and pale
pink. Next year, look for the Rainbow knock out and a double knock out rose.
rose series are low-maintenance,
free-flowering plants that produce hips late in the season. They carry clusters
of fairly small, mildly fragrant flowers throughout the growing season. The
carefree roses come in four shades of pink, from medium pink to violet-pink.
There is one yellow Carefree rose, Carefree Sunshine.
English roses are a sub-category of shrub roses created by one
hybridizer: David Austin. His first introduction, Constance Spry, is a climber
that came out in 1961. This rose represented the renewed interest in roses that
offered the charm and fragrance of old roses.
Generally, Austin roses have the full,
cabbage-type flowers resembling old roses and good fragrance. Some are better
performers than others in terms of disease-resistance and vigor. Some of the
reds, from the same lines as 'The Prince' are weak and unhealthy.
Groundcover roses are a new class of rose that has
emerged since the 1980s. While this isn't a category that all rose
organizations recognize, groundcover roses have gained popularity with
consumers both because of their easy-care nature and the marketing campaigns
that have supported them.
Groundcover roses should have certain characteristics:
they should be repeat bloomers that are resistant to black spot and mildew and
be good candidates for any location where you would place a low-growing
deciduous shrub. Some groundcover roses are extremely hardy.
Unlike other roses where
you thin out canes and make
judicious pruning cuts, ground cover roses can be cut back by about one-third
of their overall size in spring.
The original pink Flower Carpet(r) rose burst onto
gardening scene in the 1990s with a huge advertising campaign. Legions of the
trademarked pink pots lined the aisles at home improvement centers. Flower
carpet roses are now available in several flower colors.
The Pavement(r) series of roses
was introduced in the
late 1980s by the German rose company, Baum. Touted as the
"maintenance-free" rose, pavement roses are hardy to Zone 3, grow to
about three feet tall, and repeat-bloom with fragrant flowers in shades of pink
and white. Pavement roses are rugosa hybrids, which would account for their
excellent fragrance and disease resistance.
Hybrid Rugosa Rose
tough roses are the ultimate in
disease-resistance-save for a few hybrids that behave more like their modern
cousins. All are descendents of the species Rosa rugosa. Rugosa roses are generally very cold-tolerant
and are the one rose to plant at your seaside property-they'll tolerate the
A popular cultivar, 'Hansa', has been around since 1905.
It has large clusters of double
cerise-red, fragrant flowers on stems to five feet. 'Blanc Double de Coubert'
has fragrant double white flowers. The best rugosas are the white, pink and
cerise-flowered cultivars. There are a number of yellow rugosas, but my
experience is that they are not as vigorous or are more disease-prone.
Any rugosa cultivar
that doesn't have the highly crinkled
leaf surface may be more susceptible to the diseases that affect other roses.
Most rugosas bear very thorny stems and canes.
Hybrid Musk Rose
their book Best Rose Guide, Roger Phillips and Martyn
Rix say that hybrid musks are one of the best groups of roses-and its hard to
disagree. Hybrid musk roses are sometimes considered a type of shrub rose and
are often healthy and easy to grow. Plants are usually covered with masses of
flowers in clusters, rather than individual large ones.
The Reverend Joseph Pemberton
was a pioneer in breeding
hybrid musk roses, introducing many cultivars in the 1920s that remain popular
today. The three I think of immediately when I think of Pemberton's roses are:
'Cornelia' (1925), 'Felicia' (1928) and 'Penelope' (1924). They all carry
loosely double flowers in shades of peachy-pink. One of my favorite roses, 'Sally Holmes', trusses of large
single flowers all summer long-the big clusters remind me of rhododendrons in
bloom. While the flowers aren't fragrant, they are a sophisticated ivory-pink
that I think would make a perfect wedding bouquet.
Polyantha roses are a small group of small roses. Only a
couple cultivars are widely grown. Polyanthas are considered close cousins to
the hybrid musks and miniature tea roses. You'll notice the resemblance to both
types of roses in the most well-known polyantha, 'The Fairy'. This cultivar
would work well in a garden situation where you would use a shrub or
groundcover rose. It is a healthy little plant that reaches a little over two feet tall. It has lovely
clusters of small pink flowers that repeat through the summer. 'Cecile Brunner'
is a polyantha, though many think of her as an Old Garden Rose. Cecile is a
modern rose, introduced in 1881, about 15 years after the beginning of the
modern rose era.
Give it a try!
While I have all
my old roses in the back, around my
greenhouse, I think I'll try some of the new, disease resistant roses in the
front yard, where I don't like to fuss as much. Even if you're a dedicated old
rose lover-like me-you'll find there are some modern roses that will fit into
Next month, the final rose story in this series-Climbers,
Ramblers and Miniatures!