need quotes on wild roses, Cass, Jeri ?

11 years ago

I'm writing a talk on the subject of wild roses, to be given at a public wild rose collection in a year or two, and would appreciate your opinions about why you like wild roses and species hybrids, and if you will let me quote you.

My talk will be mostly on wild rose species but will cover a few species hybrids, including "Stanwell Perpetual", "Simplex" 'Soleil d'Or' 'Simplex' and "Mermaid" to point out the genetic influence of wild rose breeding in certain garden roses.

Quotes from published poems about a wild rose would be welcome as well.

Thank you,


I mistakenly wrote this following rough draft here instead of where I intended it, and I'm at a library where the printer is broken. Rather than to loose it, I've kept it here.

If you want to read and/or gently comment on its content please do.

thanks L.

Remember this is a rough draft. I'll correct spelling and grammar later. thanks again.

I only began to appreciate wild roses after I learned to view them differently. Like many modern persons, I noticed the flowers on a rosebush and little else, for I once thought, what else is a rosebush for?

But there is quite a bit more worth noticing, on a wild rosebush, for not only are the flowers worth looking at, but very often, the foliage of a wild rosebush can be far more beautiful than that of some garden roses, and altogether, with the dainty blossoms, abundant foliage and attractive arching, trailing or bushy growth habit, a typical wild rosebush is full of beauty. The same totality of beauty can still be seen in many of the Old Garden Rose bushes, that as a whole are closer in breeding to wild roses, and share with them that same over all beauty.

Comparitively, hybridizers who bred modern Hybrid Tea roses began intentionally breeding for the trait of larger roses in that class, and that trait primarily since c. the 1880's. This has created a class of rose that has large blossoms, on a type of plant that is occasionally critisized as appearing stiffly upright, with plain foliage and often little enough of it, for bare canes often show on the lower part of the plant. Because this was the most popular class of rose for a very long time, it is no wonder why modern folks see only a rose when they look at a rosebush, because sometimes there is little else worth seeing in some garden roses. I do not mean to critisize the class of Hybrid Tea, I am pointint out how some modern roses are different from wild roses in order to recomend how one can appreciate a wild rose more fully, by looking at its foliage, and/or rosehips and noticing its growth habit which is usually graceful.

My freind Connie, who grows only Hybrid Tea roses was astonishsed at the beauty of the foliage of an Alba Semi-Plena in my garden, a rose that is descended only, from 3 different wild rose species. Alba Semi-Plena has blue-green leaves which have been called "luxerious" in texture, and to me these appear as lush as shorn teal velveteen from a few feet away. The plant was not even in flower and my freind was delighted with its leaves. She kept enthusiastically repeating "That's a rosebush!!!? as if she could not believe her eyes. Her response might have been so enthusiastic because many (not all) Hybrid Tea class rosebushes have foliage which is often reffered to as "plain". In all fairness, every class of rose has its own virtues, and just as the class of Hybrid Tea is valued for its long- stemmed large flowers, wild roses are appreciated for their typcially small flowers that usually have only 5 petals, ( some have more and there is one species that has 4). Five to 15 petals on a rose blossom is a virtue as this particular form of rose has a particular native charm, and a naturally soft appearance, there is nothing stiff about a wild rose blossom. A five petaled rose is a blessing to bees, which are attracted to such roses, because such a rose naturally has a larger space available for stamens and pollen.


It is because the wild rose named Rosa moschata has so few petals that it is able to waft its sweet musky fragrance several yards away from the bush when a breeze is blowing. It is well worth paying a visit to this rose during its bloom cycle which peaks between August 15 and October 15th. This is one of the wild roses that was grown as a garden rose in England in the 1500's. In Europe until the Autumn damask was brought from the middle east, there were no re-blooming roses, and The Rose season as it was called was a short one with most rosebushes blooming in May and/or June in England. One of the values in having a wild rose collection that includes dozens of species is that this prolongs the wild rose bloom season which in zone 8 begins with the Banksiae which bloom in April, most of the North American roses bloom between May-August, Rosa rugosa blooms in June and re-blooms in September, with Rosa moschata ending the bloom season around Halloween. In every month from April through October each bush does "double duty for beauty" with its foliag display and these roses also have an ornamental display of rosehips in the Autumn, in fact some people grow these roses primarily for the beauty of the rosehips of;

Rosa rugosa: red hips are as large as cherry tomatoes, for which it is nicknamed the "Tomato Rose"

Rosa spinosissima: sprays of jet-black, bead like rosehips.

'Alba Semi-Plena' garden variety that is a species hybrid: flagon shaped orange hips turn red when ripe.

One wild rose is often grown primarily for its prickles!.

The new canes of Rosa pteracantha show very large and ornamental red prickles. When sunlight shows through these it reminds me of red stained glass.

The biggest difference between wild roses as a class and garden roses which are all hybrids no matter the class name, is that rosebushes from the garden rose classes, which number c. 48, and include Hybrid Tea, Hybrid Perpetual, Tea, Florabunda, and Bourbon for example, is that garden roses usually have been bred to have larger blossoms, and/or may have more petals than wild roses typically do. There is also more color variation in garden roses due to hybridization. It took rose hybridizers thousands of attempts to breed a cold hardy rose of a medium yellow hue and such a rose was not widely introduced into commerce until 1900, it is called 'Soliel d'Or' and one can easily note the influence of its wild rose parent by its red-brown like bark, very tough roots, and because it has very few side canes but long graceful whip like basal canes. Its' foliage is as pretty as that of most wild rosebushes.

There are nearly 150 different rose species, and all are native only to the Northern Hemisphere. However there is great variation between the climates and conditions that wild roses flourish in, from the Southern swamps of Florida where Rosa palustris that is commonly called the Swamp rose grows, to Alaska where the Polar Rose with the Latin name of Rosa acicularlis blooms. Other rose species are native to the dry foothills of Afghanistan and the river rose of India survives months of having its roots submerged in water. Rosa gigantea, which means the Gigantic Rosebush, is native to China, where it can grow to be more than 70 feet tall. I've seen more clumps of Rosa californica than I could count growing on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais in Marin county.

To fully appreciate the beuaty of wild roses, (and most Old Garden Roses that share the full trinity of rose beauty; in bush, foliage and bloom) look at the leaves of wild Rugosa roses, which appear lightly pleated, Scotch roses (R. spinosissima)that have some of the prettiest foliage, which is often called "fern-like". The species hybrid named "Stanwell Perpetual" inherited the attractive ferny leaves of its Scotch species parent and probably its rounded damask scented blossoms from the 'Autumn Damask'.

Nearly all wild rose species plants are bushy which means that the amount of foliage is plentiful enough to cover nearly all of their canes.

Fragrance. Most wild rose bushes bear blosoms that have a light fragrance, individually. My experience is that the best way to smell a wild rose is to smell an entire cluster of roses at a time, rather than one individual rose blossom.

Before the mid-1800's one could expect to see beauty in nearly every rose, of course, but also the bush that it grew upon. This is an important point. in wild roses and also in the garden roses that were in existance then, many of which were closely related to wild roses, including the Ayreshire ramblers, bred from a wild climbing rose native to Great Britain named Rosa arvensis. Scotch roses, bred from the wild Scots' rose, and Alba class roses that descend from 3 wild rose species all have beautiful roses, and lovely foliage which makes them beautiful landscape plants during every month of the growing season, which in zone 8 lasts for 9-10 months of the year, depending on which species a rosebush belongs to.

Roses in the collection:

Wild rosebushes nearly all serve as beautiful foliage plants. A foliage plant is usually one that is used in landscaping primarily for the beauty of its leaves. Most wild rosebushes therefore often serve two purposes in landscaping, in providing beauty both in bloom, but they also form a lovely background of attractive leaves, which many landscapers see as the second most important feature in any flowering garden. Two wild rose species have particularly fragrant leaves, these are Rosa eglanteria commonly called the eglantine rose, now known as Rosa rubinigosa and Rosa primula, which is called the Incense Rose not for the fragrance of its small pert and pretty yellow roses, but for the strong and lovely scent of its' leaves, which once made me think that I was sitting near a Japanese temple until I noticed a large bush of Rosa primula was growing several feet away from the bench I was sitting upon.

In addition to beauty of bloom and foliage, several wild rose species produce a spectacular autumnal display of colorful rosehips, these include Rosa moyessi, Rosa rugosa, nick-named the tomato rose for the size of its red hips, and the beautiful jet-black sprays of Rosa spinosissima which is a wild rose that is native to Scotland. (and other places.)

Attractive foliage display, lovely rose blossoms, and ornamental rosehips extend the season of beauty of a wild rose collection. Each wild rose species comes into bloom at a particular rotation in a collection, and though the month (s) of bloom may change by a few weeks depending on weather, the sequence of rotation remains the same.

In our area the Banksiae roses are now in full bloom when the very first rosebud on Rosa carolina and Rosa californica have opened, in mid-April. A triple species hybrid named Alba Semi-plena, usually blooms from c. May 21 through mid-June. It is one of the showiest types of wild rose relations, with large white petals, but few enough of them that there is a marvelous showy golden boss of stamens and pollen in the center. Such stamen and pollen displays are one of the reasons why some people prefer roses that have only 5 or 10 petals.

Although the majority of wild rose species have a short blooming season, most produce one bloom cycle each year, that lasts on average for c. 1 months long, but a few have longer bloom cycles with Rosa moschata blooming continuously for 3 months. Rosa rugosa produces two bloom cycles in this area and usually blooms in this garden during June and September.

to be continued with rest of the collection...

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