Old Roses, or Heirloom Roses, or Heritage Roses, or Antique Roses are those roses that were developed before the advent of the modern hybrid tea rose. The first hybrd tea rose 'La France' was hybridized in 1867, a cross between a Hybrid Perpetual and a Tea. By the turn of the century, when hybridization became more sophisticated, modern Hybrid Tea roses began to replace the old roses in popularity.
Today, old roses are once again popular for their delicate shapes, heady perfumes, and abilitiies to mingle with other plants in the garden. At left is the Bourbon Rose "Reine Victoria', first introduced in 1872, the height of the Victorian era. 287-3228
For many, the appeal of old roses are the simple single roses. Single roses most closly resemble the five-petaled wild, species roses, and are often disease resistant. Rose'Complicata', seen here is a vigourous old rose called by Graham Stuart Thomas "one of the most strikingly beautiful of single pink roses". And a hedge of this rose? Oh my! 496-1076
There are many classes of old roses with often obscure reasons for their naming and hybrid history. From the oldest hybids, dating back to Roman antiquity with the Gallicas, to Damasks, Centifolias,Albas, Mosses, hybridization was revolutionized when the repeat blooming Chinese varieties were brought to Europe in the late 18th century, This lead to new families of roses, the Chinas, Portlands, Bourbons, Hybrid Perpetuals, and eventually Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Florabundas, etc.
Confusion begins to be understood when one notes the Centifolia rose 'Cristata', at left, has the distinct 'moss' on the sepals so characteristic of Moss Roses. Furthar complicating clear identification of which class a rose fits into are diffferent names for the same rose. This rose is also known as 'Crested Moss', 'Centifolia Cristata' and popularly, 'Chapeau de Napoleon' or 'Napolean's Hat' for the tricorn hat shape of the bud. 642-571
Of all the old roses, perhaps the Bourbons are most identified with the old rose look and fragrance, yet they began the demise of old rose to modern hybrids. First discovered as a chance hybrid on the Isle de Bourbon, an island in the Indian Ocean, the first Bourbon rose was repeat blooming, large, and fragrant. By the time European hybridizers were through cross breeding the Bourbons, they had created Hybrid Bourbons, Hybrid Perpetuals, Noisettes, and eventually Hybrid Teas.
The Bourbon rose pictures here is arguably (by those other than this author) as the most fragrant rose in the world. Though Bourbons can be prone to disease, this rose, as Graham Thomas says, when "well grown, on good deep soil. it has no peer". My favorite rose: 'Madame Isaac Pereire'. 495-9225
Before the introduction of the China roses, which brought in the re-blooming gene now expected in all modern roses, roses bloomed only once. Centifolias or 'Cabbage Roses' for ther prolific petals, were one of the earliest hybrid classes, making the rose particulalry garden worthy by making the flowers more showy.
Of the once blooming old roses today, only those that are particulalry showy can be commonly found in gardens such as this rose named after the French artist who loved to paint flowers: 'Fantin-Latour'. 686-70