Old Garden Roses
The magnificent old garden roses, the first cultivated ornamental roses, charm us with their large, softly hued and highly fragrant blooms.
The year 1867 is the dividing line for old-fashioned and modern roses, as it is when the first modern hybrid, the ‘La France’ hybrid tea rose, was introduced. But what primarily distinguishes modern from old garden roses is the fact that most of the former bloom only once a season, while the latter tend to be repeat bloomers.
According to horticultural classification practices at the time, all roses belonging to a class established before 1867 are known as old garden roses. Those introduced after that date may be designated as old garden roses if they belong to an existing class or have the same characteristics.
The name of each group of old garden roses refers to its parentage, with each group being descended from an ancient rose and sharing some of its characteristics. For instance, the gallica roses are all descendants of Rosa gallica.
This part of the Rose Garden is home to the most important groups of hardy old garden roses in the history of rose cultivation.
Bush roses boast brilliant colours, repeat or continuous blooming, uniquely shaped buds and a compact bearing. They are not particularly hardy in our climate, and require adequate winter protection. There are three main groups of roses in this category:
Hybrid Teas: Extremely popular, with their perfectly shaped and brilliantly coloured large blooms. They are either continuous or recurrent (or repeat) bloomers, i.e. flowering two or three times in a season. Their flowers, one on each stem, are usually double and come in every hue, some of them highly fragrant.
Floribundas: The most prolific bloomers of all modern roses, flowering in profusion continuously from June to October. Their clusters of double or semi-double blooms come in an extremely wide array of colours. Mass plantings of these bushes make particularly striking arrangements.
Grandifloras: These roses, with their clusters of flowers, combine the robustness and abundant blooms of the floribundas with the classic shapes of the hybrid teas.
Canadian Shrub Roses
Roses are all shrub plants. But a separate category, known as shrub roses, covers a number of species and hybrids that are particularly vigorous, hardy, easy to grow and popular with landscape gardeners.
One group merits special attention: the Explorer and Parkland series developed by Agriculture Canada. They are renowned for their extended blooming season, disease resistance and excellent winter hardiness.
Explorer Roses: This series includes shrub roses of various sizes, including a number of climbers, in shades of pink, red, yellow and white. They are each named after a Canadian explorer, for instance ‘John Cabot,’ ‘Jens Munk’ and ‘Champlain.’
Parkland Roses: This series includes smaller shrubs, along with some prostrate forms. Their blooms are similar to the hybrid teas and floribundas, in shades of red, pink, orange and white. ‘Morden Ruby’, ‘Adelaïde Hoodless’ and ‘Winnipeg Parks’ are a few examples.
Agriculture Canada’s selection and genetic improvement program is aimed at offering gardeners roses that are perfectly winter hardy and easy to grow, in addition to having an extended blooming season.
The rose genus, Rosa, includes some 140 species that grow in the wild. These are called “species roses.” These plants are very vigorous and generally hardy and bloom only once a season. Their flowers are mostly five-petalled single blooms, followed later in the season by brightly coloured hips.
Growing throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from North America to Europe and Asia, they are the ancestors of all roses. All of the old garden roses and the thousands of modern hybrids we know today were developed from crosses or mutations of species roses.
Botanists classify species roses into sections or groups. The Botanical Garden’s collection includes the following groups of species roses: Pimpinellifoliae, Gallicanae, Caninae, Carolinae, Synstylae and Cinnamomeae. As well, it showcases four other species native to Québec: Rosa blanda, R. acicularis, R. nitida and R. palustris.