I think every rose gardener should reserve some room in the garden to grow some Old Garden Roses. I have some in my garden that I fell in love with at rose shows over the years. I just asked for the stem from the exhibitor at the end of the day…that’s how I got ‘Henri Martin,’ a deep red fading to purplish, fragrant moss rose introduced in 1862. My friend, Zack, gave me the cutting with a smile. That was three years ago, and now this rose bush is huge! ‘Henri’ is a one-time bloomer but has a pretty long season. This year, he delighted me over a six-week period. My friend, Chris, found an OGR in Putnam, CT, at the sight of an old estate. She shared it with me and I love it every June. ‘Celsiana’ is a gorgeous soft pink blend that I started from a cutting from my neighbor’s house in Windsor. She is a joy every spring. I have other OGRs in my garden that are once bloomers, but everyone should know that there are other Old Garden Beauties that are ‘ remontant ,’ meaning that they bloom more than once. I’d like to share two from my garden with you.
Comte de Chambord
This lovely pink rose is a cross between ‘Baronne Prevost’ (a Hybrid Perpetual) and an unknown Portland rose. It was introduced in France before 1858 by Robert and Moreau. Most OGRs grow very tall and wide, but this beautiful thing in my garden grows about 3’ tall and wide. In parts of the countryside with a longer growing season, she can top out at 3-5’ and 2-4’ wide. Because my Comte stays within bounds, I grow her at the front of the border where I can stop often to breathe in her sweetness. Her pink-blended blooms are 4-5” across and the petals are quartered. As a Damask Perpetual-Portland rose, the fragrance of this beauty is entirely intoxicating…the super-strong scent of pure rose. Add to that a hardiness factor of zone 4b! I also love it that she is extremely quick to rebloom, often five flushes during the growing season.
Madame Pierre Oger
Another ‘ damsel remontant ’ in my rose garden is ‘Mme. Pierre Oger.’ She is classified as a Bourbon rose and was discovered in France by Pierre Oger. It was growing as a sport on his plant ‘La Reine Victoria.’ (A sport is a phenomenon when a plant puts up a new stem that looks exactly the same as the rest of the plant, but when the blossom opens, it is a completely different color!) I’m thinking that M. Oger propagated that sport, named it after his wife, and introduced it in 1878. ‘Mme. Pierre,’ as a Bourbon, has a globular form. The blossoms are round and cupped and are about 2.5” in diameter. These small blooms are loaded with petals and are usually in clusters. She is a blush pink and matures to a darker pink at the edges of the petals. Mme. Pierre resides at the back of my garden as her vigor and height can be legendary! I’ll bet she can be grown as a climber, too. She is generous with repeat blooms and I am happy to say that I can reach her easily on the lawn at the back of the bed. To me, her blossoms smell like fruit and honey. My favorite way to display them is to float a dozen or so in a crystal bowl on the dining room table to perfume the room for all to enjoy.
Something Old Is New Again
I hope you can find some room in your garden to try some of these beauties. I love it that they are so different from modern varieties! I also love it that people from long ago loved these roses as much as I do today. It’s all about the antiquity, the form, and the heady fragrance. Enjoy!
Meet Marci Martin
Marci Martin fell in love with roses when she was a little girl, and the love affair goes on. She has been growing roses for…