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The Flower Show

A Beloved Blossom

February 26, 2020

leaf icon the flower show

for the love of plants_february 20

By Nicole Juday Rhoads

The rose is among civilization’s most beloved blossoms. Traditionally grown in formal beds filled with one type of rose, today roses are more often seen growing as specimens by themselves or in a mixed border, where they combine well with perennials and summer bulbs.

With over 150 species and many thousands of cultivars in existence, it can be hard to know where to start when selecting the right rose for your garden. I enjoy growing antique varieties, also known as old-fashioned roses, for their delicious fragrance and uniquely formed blossoms.

For the front of the border, ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ is one of my favorites. Introduced in 1838, this low, spreading rose features semi-double, shell-pink flowers that rebloom throughout the season, set off by delicate blue-gray foliage. A cultivar of Rosa spinossisima, ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ doesn’t require extensive pruning, shaping, or deadheading.

For the middle or back of the border, I like ‘Blush Noisette’, a rose from 1811. Reaching about four feet tall, this rose is fairly upright and covered with the most fragrant sprays of palest pink flowers throughout the season.”

For making a statement, the double chestnut rose, Rosa roxburghii, is a showstopper. A large, spreading shrub reaching five feet tall and six feet wide, it starts blooming in late May and continues on and off through the summer with deep pink double flowers. For a large plant, the light green foliage is surprisingly delicate and entirely resistant to disease.  

All of the above-mentioned roses are available to purchase online from a number of mail-order nurseries, including Antique Rose Emporium and Roses Unlimited.

Rose-loving gardeners will especially enjoy this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, Saturday, February 29 through Sunday, March 8, where they can visit a recreation of Princess Grace’s rose garden designed by Renee Tucci, AIFD.  The garden will be filled with both fresh cut roses and rose plants. Over 3,000 fresh-cut stems will include lush traditional varieties, fragrant garden roses, and opulent miniature spray roses. Among the 25 varieties of fresh-cut roses will be the 'Princess Charlene of Monaco' garden rose along with the 'Grimaldi' family rose and another beautiful shade of pink called 'Sweet Mademoiselle'. A stunning replica of Princess Grace’s iconic wedding dress, on loan from Nicholas and Elizabeth Barranca, will be the centerpiece of this garden.

Become your own rosarian!  Try out one or more of these rose varieties for their beautiful colors, ease of care, and their fragrances on the vine or in a vase at home!