There are many families of rose from Floribunda (clustered roses) to Hybrid Tea (large flower single stem) through to Chinas and Wichuranas. Each has its own characteristics from large blooms to smaller clusters or a certain type of scent.
A very old race of roses. The Albas flower in early summer, are almost invariably scented and extremely resistant to disease. Foliage is grey-green and produced abundantly on an upright, vigorous plant which never outgrows its welcome in any garden.
Rosa arvensis, ‘The Field Rose’ can be found growing wild in the countryside. Its hybrids have inherited the same vigour of their parent.
The Bourbons first emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. They are most diverse, both in habit of growth and colour of flower. They were very popular in Victorian times when their repeat flowering characteristics were much appreciated, as indeed they are today.
Not a large family but an interesting one. Thornless, arching growth is of unusual colouring from pale green to plum. The flowers, attractively ragged in appearance are all in pink to red shades and are slightly scented. The foliage is attractive and usually provides good autumn colour.
Centuries old, these “roses of the hundred petals”, make superb shrubs. The more vigorous forms usually produce large flowers of exquisite shape and perfume, with the shorter types producing very double flowers almost invariably in perfect proportion to the size of the plant.
These roses first appeared in the mid-eighteenth century and their long flowering season encouraged breeders to raise many varieties throughout the nineteenth century. It is difficult to generalise but the bush forms are seldom taller than 4ft in our climate. They all have shiny foliage. Where climbing forms exist they are usually reliable.
Some of the members of this group probably date back to Roman times. Amongst their ranks can be found some of the most beautiful of all roses. They are usually healthy, and without exception are blessed with the distinctive Damask perfume. Some are remontant.
Floribundas (Older Varieties)
Floribundas produce their flowers in clusters, usually continuously.
Amongst the Gallicas are some of the oldest cultivated roses. This group embraces a wide range of colour from purple-maroon to pink. They make compact plants with ample foliage. They are usually scented and vary from single to very double. We list quite a few varieties here, but it is said that the Empress Josephine had a collection of over 150 at Malmaison at the beginning of the 19th century.
This useful group of roses evolved early in the 20th century. Their healthy, free-flowering habits make them useful, versatile shrubs. The flowers are borne in large clusters and are usually scented. Good for hedging, specimen and group planting.
This group emerged in the mid-nineteenth century and evolved to eventually supersede the Bourbons in Victorian times as the most popular race of roses. They vary from high-centred, very double flowers to blowsy blooms with varying degrees of perfume. Their growth habits are also variable from short, compact plants to vigorous shrubs, most will give a repeat flowering in autumn.
Hybrid Teas (Older Varieties)
These are the older Hybrid Teas. They are usually perfumed and are of complex ancestry.
Rosa moschata dates back to the reign of Henry VIII. Most of its descendants have flowers borne in clusters and produced from mid-summer well into the autumn.
A group usually of Centifolia origin with mossed buds and stems. In some cases the moss completely covers the stems and in others just the calyx. Varying in height from 3ft. to as much as 6ft. or more. Usually scented these roses are available in most colours.
Multiflora hybrids have few thorns and their foliage varies from bright green to grey in colour. They flower once only each summer, usually in great profusion. The taller varieties are good for tree climbing etc.
Noisettes & Close Relatives
These are very beautiful climbers. Highly scented and free flowering. They have a range of uses from wall plants to arches.
Scotch Roses ~ (Previously Spinosissima also known as Burnets). These roses were almost as numerous at the beginning of the nineteenth century as Floribundas are today, losing their popularity only when superseded by roses with a longer flowering season. They are particularly good for hedging.
The Polyanthas are useful little roses. They are compact in growth and they produce clusters of small flowers through-out the season.
Amongst this group are to be found not only some of the finest of old roses but also some of the most useful. They are all continuous or repeat flowering and of accommodating proportions. They can fulfil a variety of roles from mass bedding to hedging and most do very well in pots or urns etc.
These must rank as the healthiest of all roses. They make excellent shrubs and hedges with well-armed stems and leathery, dark green foliage. Both the double and single varieties are highly scented and several types bear large, ornamental hips.
This is a very useful group of rambling roses for in all but the severest winters they will retain their leaves. They are healthy, vigorous and bear clusters of semi-double flowers.
Sweet Briars & Canina Hybrids
These are vigorous shrubs most but not all with scented foliage, usually armed with numerous, sharp thorns which make them ideal subjects for covert work and informal, tall hedges. The single forms usually bear abundant hips in late summer and autumn.
The early Teas were not fully hardy and were more often grown in greenhouses and conservatories than as garden plants. They are very beautiful roses and several of the hardier varieties can make good garden plants if grown in sheltered, warm situations or in pots, etc.
These Ramblers owe their vigour and pliability of growth to Rosa wichurana. Left to ramble, they make ideal covering plants, be it on ground, building or trellis. They usually have scent and their foliage is shiny rich green.