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My Victorian Garden in Summer: Growing Heirloom and Old-Fashioned Roses

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Chazz is an Interior Decorator/Consultant/Retailer, amateur photographer, cook, gardener, handyman, currently restoring an 1880 Victorian.

Rosa Cardinal de Richelieu: a Gallica Rose from 1850.

Rosa Cardinal de Richelieu: a Gallica Rose from 1850.

Why Grow Romantic Old Garden Heirloom and Old Fashioned Victorian Roses?

Roses have long been the most favored and romantic of all flowers. Yet, even though the rose been the most popular flower since ancient times, most people think that roses are difficult to grow.

Although it is true that most modern hybrids require substantial care and coddling, antique heirloom old garden roses do not. They have not withstood the test of time by being fussy.

Old garden roses are substantially hardier, far more disease resistant, and come in more varieties than modern roses. (In fact, there are so many types of old roses that we have another page about them.)

No Victorian Garden would be considered complete without at least several rose bushes to scent the summer air, and ours is no exception. Our summer garden features period antique heirloom old garden roses and a few newer old-fashioned roses bred to have many of the desirable characteristics of their forebears. We hope you will be inspired to add a few vigorous heirloom roses to your garden.


Rosa Antike Caramel. © 2011-19 CJS.

Rosa Antike Caramel. © 2011-19 CJS.

Old Roses Are Time-Tested, Not Temperamental

Antique roses have stood the test of time. Their historic interest, fragrance, durability, and form give old roses an appeal that is timeless.

Many of the old roses available today have been collected from abandoned homesteads and long forgotten cemeteries where they have been neglected and yet have survived on their own for decades.

Today's hybrid roses may have larger blooms and colors that were not available 100 years ago, but they are often temperamental and usually high-maintenance, especially if you try to grow them in climates where the temperatures drop below the freezing point.

Old roses are more vigorous and tend to have an overall form that is pleasing even when they are not in bloom. Many have handsome foliage and attractive hips in the fall, making them useful landscaping plants. Old-time roses add a grace and substance to a garden that most modern hybrid roses lack. Plus they are much easier to care for.

Who could ask for more?

2014-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved

2014-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved

Rosa Reine Victoria

The Queen Victoria Rose

A Quintessential Victorian Rose, Reine Victoria is a classic Bourbon rose from 1872.

La Reine Victoria blooms throughout the summer with cupped shaped flowers in a slightly lavender toned rose. It is an upright shrub with beautifully scented medium sized flowers.

Rosa Alchymist - (that's not a typo - just the original spelling)

© 2012-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

© 2012-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa Alchymist is a once-blooming Eglanteria hybrid rose crossed with a large flowered climber by Kordes in 1956. The color ranges from soft apricots and peaches to pink and yellow shades -- all on one plant at the same time! A sight (and scent) to behold.

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

~Gertrude Stein

Did You Know Roses not only Look Delicious ... - They actually are?

Do you grow antique heirloom roses?

Rosa Baronne Prévost  (left) and Rosa Marchesa Bocella (right)

Rosa Baronne Prévost (left) and Rosa Marchesa Bocella (right)

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Rosa 'Marchesa Boccella' from 1842

aka Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier, as it is usually called in the U.S., is an Antique Rose that was introduced as Marchesa Bocella in France in 1842. With over 80 petals and outstanding fragrance, Rosa Jacques Cartier is one of the most sensuous of the old roses.

Four inch rich clear pink blossoms bloom repeatedly all summer on a bushy four to five feet tall upright shrub. It is hardy to zone 4 and will tolerate some shade. This magnificent rose is identified by some as a hybrid perpetual and as a portland rose by others. Whichever or whatever you call it, you will agree it is an exceptional rose.

Rosa Baronne Prévost

Bred in France by Jean Desprez in 1841

Rosa Baronne Prévost is an early hardy, reblooming hybrid perpetual shrub rose introduced in 1842. It has a heady old rose fragrance.

It is packed with petals and coloring ranges from pale pink to rose, with shadings enhanced by the shadows. A sturdy erect (and thorny) shrub, it grows to 3 to 5 ft. tall and is covered in bright green foliage and clusters of flowers.

2012-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

2012-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa Leontine Gervais

A Rambler from 1903

Leontine Gervais is a popular wichuraiana hybrid rambler that is easy to grow and very fragrant. It can grow to 25 feet and needs strong support for that reason.

Rosa Leontine Gervais is vigorous, disease resistant, and spectacular! In mid to late spring, it is covered in coppery colored buds that open to pink and fade to cream.

Create a Romantic Shady Retreat - Just Add Your Favorite Ramblers or Climbing Roses

One may live without bread,

but not without roses.

~Jean Richepin

Rose Sarah van Fleet. ©  2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rose Sarah van Fleet. © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa Sarah van Fleet

An Historic Rose introduced in 1926

Sarah van Fleet is a hybrid Rugosa with slightly cupped semi-double flowers in a medium mallow pink.

Don't let it's pretty appearance fool you. Sarah is one tough rose. She has a wonderful fragrance that blends old rose with cloves and good rebloom.

Antique Rosa Tuscany Superba Dates to 1837

Victorian Antique Historic Rose Tuscany Superba  © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Victorian Antique Historic Rose Tuscany Superba © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa Tuscany Superba is a once-blooming Gallica rose that is definitely worth the wait! The color is a deep velvety purple-ish red that opens to reveal a center of golden stamens. It grows to about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide with a true old rose fragrance.

Rosa 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh'  © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh'

From Charles Austin

Although the Charles Rennie Mackintosh rose was registered in 1994, it honors the Scottish Arts & Crafts designer and his famous stylized rose motif which bears his name.

A repeat bloomer with a strong fragrance, our two Mackintosh roses were never without at least one cluster of blooms throughout last summer.

This smaller sized English shrub rose should be planted where its scent can be fully appreciated along with its beauty. Hardy in zones 5 through 10, this shrub rose also tolerates shade.

Heritage Rose

Light Pink Heritage Rose. © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved

Light Pink Heritage Rose. © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved

A soft porcelain pink old fashioned cupped double rose with a strong spicy sweet fragrance, Rosa Heritage is an Austin English shrub rose introduced in 1984. David Austin considers Heritage the most beautiful of all of the Austin Roses. It is nearly thornless with good disease resistance and prolific virtually non-stop blooms.

Austin on Austin's English Garden Roses

Antique Heirloom German Rose Geschwind's Schönste © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Antique Heirloom German Rose Geschwind's Schönste © 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Geschwind's 'Schönste'

From the late 1800s

Schönste is German for Most Beautiful and one look at this voluptuous rose and you will agree.

Be on the lookout for more roses bred by Geschwind as he is finally, after 150 years, receiving the attention his work deserves.

Born in 1829 in what is now the Czech republic, Rudolf Geschwind spent over 50 years breeding roses with an emphasis on health, winter hardiness, and profusion of blooms. Geschwind roses do not need to be coddled and they are vigorous as well as gorgeous plants.

Schönste is one of our favorite Geschwind's. A hybrid multiflora, Schönste can be grown as a shrub or a climber. Summer blooming with some repeat through fall, it is hardy to zone 3. Gently scented, with a magnificently nuanced color, it is the answer to a cold-weather rose gardener's dream.

What's in a name?

That which we call a rose

by any other name would smell as sweet.

~Shakespeare

© 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved

© 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved

Rosa Kronprincessin Viktoria

Crown Princess Victoria Rose

This fragrant 19th century ivory rose is a white sport of Souvenir de la Malmaison and was registered in 1887.

Rosa Kronprincessin Viktoria is a reblooming Bourbon rose that grows to about 4 feet. Plant this one where you can enjoy the fragrance.

Rosa Louise Clements

© 2012-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

© 2012-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa Louise Clements is an old-fashioned, fully double, English-style rose bred in 1996 by the late John Clements. He named this magnificent copper colored beauty after his wife. Louise Clements is a continual blooming upright shrub rose with a lovely fragrance.



© 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

© 2011-19 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

Rosa Excellenz von Schubert

A Polyantha from 1909

Repeat blooming with a musky fragrance and an open cascading habit, Excellenz von Schubert is a superb performer in our zone 5 garden.

This Polyantha rose is said to grow to about 3 to 5 feet, but I've been having success with it as a climber wending its way through a tall lilac.

Rosa Aime Vibert. © 2012-19 CJS.

Rosa Aime Vibert. © 2012-19 CJS.

Rosa Aime Vibert

A Noisette from 1828

Aime Vibert was named for the breeder's daughter in 1828. (It is also known as Bouquet de la Marie.)

Lightly scented, it will climb to about 20 feet but can be pruned to keep shorter.

Dark glossy leaves set off the bouquests of blooms in early summer (and, if you're lucky, again in the fall).

Gertrude Jekyll wrote that Aime Vibert could "redeem a home of no architectural pretention". One look at this photo and you're sure to agree.

Noisettes are generally not hardy in zone 5, but, with winter protection, we have been successful with this one.

The Healing Power of Roses

Historic Health Benefits of Roses

Today, roses are predominantly grown as decorative plants because of their beautiful scented blooms. Historic roses, however, have a long tradition of more practical and even medicinal uses.

Because of their beauty, fragrance, but especially because of their healing powers, roses have been associated with deities since ancient times.

The essence of roses has been used in cosmetics, lotions, perfumes and medicinal preparations for thousands of years. In fact, Pliny the Elder (23-79 BCE) listed over 30 medicinal rose formulae in his encyclopedia, Natural History. Medieval herbalists recorded even more.

From essential oils to rose hip tea, roses are said to improve mood, reduce inflammation, and provide other mental and physical health benefits.

Studies have recently confirmed that rose hips are indeed useful for treating osteoarthritis. This finding is no surprise to many non- mainstream health practitioners, but nevertheless, it is always nice to know that science is catching up to the wisdom of ages.

One word of caution: Read labels and information carefully before using these products. Do not ingest products meant for external application only. Do not use if you are allergic to roses.

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.

~James M. Barrie

Lion's (TM) Fairy Tale Rose - From Kordes

© 2011-15 CJS. All Rights Reserved

© 2011-15 CJS. All Rights Reserved

Lion's Fairy Tale is a rose of more recent vintage with old-fashioned qualities and a light sweet fragrance.