Saturday, April 21, 2007

Petite beauty: Humility means longevity for roses.

It was a gorgeous day today, and we spent some time at an antique rose garden.

Antique roses are a bit different from the ones we typically see in the average home improvement store or everyday nursery. The roses that I had been used to seeing, until recently, were bred specifically to have large, fantastically showy blooms. They also tend to require fairly regular maintenance, particularly in harsher climates. I did not know until I began doing some light internet research that these varieties were relatively recent creations in the history of roses, particularly some of the more spectacular hybrid tea roses with multi-colored petals, such as "Double Delight, pictured at the left.

Antique roses are varieties that have been around long enough to be...well...antique. Some of them go as far back as the early 1700's! Others were bred or discovered during the early 20th century. What they all seem to have in common is solid color petals, smaller blooms, and thicker foliage than their modern cousins. Though their blooms are smaller, these plants hold their own, and have a dignified beauty which, in my opinion, makes them just as worthy for a garden as any modern hybrid plant.

While perhaps not as showy as other roses, antique varieties appear to have the advantage in terms of maintenance. They are bred for hardiness. Established plants been known to survive---untended, and through hurricanes even--for upwards of 100 years. Now that is my kind of rose!

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