Saturday, May 31, 2008
Antique Roses 101
Each Penn State Master Gardner is given the opportunity to show case their area of expertise. Mine was Antique Roses. Believe it or not, I actually wrote a booklet on them. Technically, an antique rose is any rose class first cultivated prior to 1867 -- the introduction of the very popular and widely grown rose of today - the hybrid tea rose. My love of old roses first started when I wanted a "victorian" garden. But as I started researching and growing them, the realization set in on how beneficial they are for the environment. They can be grown without any maintenance. You read that right -- no maintaining the plants! Well, maybe you need to dig it out when it dies. Granted, you need some space for some of these puppies. Many are shrubs that will take over an area fairly quickly. But the show they put on is incredible. And the scents they emit is even more amazing. You think that dozen of red roses from the grocery store smells good? Wait until you get a whif of an antique rose. The scents can be spicy, flowery, musty -- some even have scented leaves. As I type, my nostrils are filled the HANSA scent -- a very powerful and hardy Rugosa shurb rose. This is definitely one my favorites. Mainly because its prolific and is resistant to everything - bugs, rust, cold winters, and mildew. Each class has a uniqueness to it -- big hips, cupped flowers, heavily scented, striped flowers, shrubs, climbing, cascading, bunched, single stem, etc. Its mind boggling - which is why I wrote a booklet! Its a briefing of antique roses, so to speak. As an FYI, there used to be 52 classes of roses with hybrid tea as one class - I'm sure that's changed over the past few years with hybrids. At one point, my gardens had maybe 50 or more varieties. Today, I'm down to maybe 12 or so. But this is a lesson learned over the years on what survives in PA and what doesn't. That too is part of the enjoyment of growing them -- discovering what works best in our climate. The booklet I wrote goes into more detail, descriptions, where to buy, etc. So if you are REALLY interested, I'd be glad to share this book -- e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get you a booklet.