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bellegallica

What led you to OGR's?

16 years ago

No doubt there have been other versions of this question posted on the forum in the past, but I thought I'd start a new one, and share the string of events that led me to discover the world of OGR's.

As a child I loved reading, and still do. I was in middle school in the late 1970's, and those of you who are of similar age, may remember those Scholastic Books order forms that would come once a year. Mom always let me order at least "one". (Otherwise she knew she'd be paying for half the titles.)

So one year, the sixth grade I think, I ordered a book called "The Treasure is the Rose" by Julia Cunningham. Set in medieval France, it was a wonderful story about the young but widowed and impoverished Countess Ariane who lives in a tiny, dilapidated and decaying cheau with her childhood nurse, Moag, the only servant who chose to remain with Ariane as she fell deeper and deeper into poverty. Ariane is happy, though, because she has her rose garden. Her favorite is a damask rose. She feels her husband understood her love of roses for his dying words were, "the treasure is the rose."

As a child, I didn't know what a "damask" rose was, so I looked it up. The dictionary said it was a "fragrant, pink rose of the Near East." There was no picture. The encylopedia was even less of a help since the entry for "damask" was strictly about damask fabric. So I decided that Ariane's beloved damask rose must be a pink version of the red roses that dad gave mom on Valentine's Day.

Fast forward twenty years, and I have just bought my first computer and now have access to the internet. I still had many of the books that I loved as a child, but others were lost or given away through the years. "The Treasure is the Rose" was one of the lost books. Occasionally overcome with nostalgia and a longing to reread some of those books, led me to using the internet to track them down through Amazon and Ebay. "The Treasure is the Rose" was the first one I recovered, and I enjoyed reading it again as an adult as much as I did as a sixth-grader.

Of course, there was that "damask" word again. What exactly was a damask rose? This time, however, I had the internet at my disposal. A quick type of "damask" into a search engine, and I was led to Paul Barden's site, "Old Garden Roses and Beyond." More specifically, I ended up on the "Rose de Rescht" page with a picture of the most beautiful flower I'd ever seen. THAT was a ROSE??!! Needless to say, I was hooked.

That is my story. I soon learned that my Deep South, hot and humid climate was not friendly to damask roses, and was steered toward teas, chinas, and noisettes. But thinking back over my introduction to OGR's, I am tempted to order 'Rose de Rescht' and give it a try.

Anyone else want to share? Even if you've already told it, tell it again! :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Paul Barden's 'Rose de Rescht' page

Comments (25)

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This Forum did it for me.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That's a great story, Bellegallica. Mine isn't nearly as interesting.

    I held off on buying a rose for a lot of years, even though my wife kept asking me to plant one. I was really enjoying gardening after we bought our home, but had no use for a rose, thinking they were all just like the modern hybrid-teas that I'd seen all my life as naked, upright sticks in other people's neglected gardens. The blooms were fine in a long-stemmed bouquet purchased from the florist, but I found the scrolled, giant buds looked kind of boring and common and out-of-place in the garden. Then there was the unnatural colors everyone seemed to love, but I disliked. I wasn't interested in having that in my garden, no matter how much DW whined.

    Then I read an article from Howard Garrett, a local gardening guru, who wrote that some roses were well-adapted to Texas. He listed a few of the best, most of them Old Roses, but also included Belinda's Dream. I was at a local garden center and saw a Belinda's Dream, and decided to give it a try. To my surprise, I really liked it, and it was no more fussy than any other plant I grew. And although its blooms did kind of resemble a hybrid-tea, there was something different about it ... there were much more petals, they sometimes looked cabbagey when the weather was just right in the spring (that look blew me away), and they smelled good enough to eat. And the plant rarely looked like naked, upright sticks ... it actually looked kind of like a shrub and always had a descent amount of healthy leaves on it.

    After the success with Belinda's Dream, I decided to research the other roses that were said to do well here. I kept reading about OGR's, namely teas, chinas, & also often listed were the polyanthas. I looked all over town for one of those "old" roses, and finally found Mrs Dudley Cross in Dallas. I thought, now THAT was a rose that looked like it belonged in my garden. The slight nodding of the blooms sealed the deal, a look I'd seen in old paintings, but never in real life. And that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship ...

    Randy

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  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I never cared for the oversized HTs that my grandma grew, and hated the idea of spraying and fussing over any plant. However, when I began gardening, the Austin roses were just starting to be popular. I took my mother to the nursery with me, and was startled when she fell all over 'Heritage,' saying "that's the rose MY grandma grew!" Since it was a modern rose, that was impossible. I took her to the Sacramento Historic Rose Garden in the old cemetery, to see if we could find the rose she remembered. We couldn't (my bet is that my Ohio great-grandma was growing a Bourbon), but I discovered 'Paul Neyron,' 'White Maman Cochet,''Lady Hillingdon,' eglantine, and 'Perle d'Or.' The fragrance - the varied shapes of the shrubs and flowers - the romance of their history - I was hooked. Gradually, I added them and more old roses to my garden, and kept on visiting the cemetery garden. When I retired six years ago, I came to the cemetery "just for the pruning season," and have been there ever since, three or four days a week, year-round. I still keep finding other old roses to love.
    Anita

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My grandmother grew roses, and showed me bits and pieces about caring for them.
    Roses part of my memories of her.
    But her roses were moderns -- her favorite was 'Sutters Gold.'
    It was a job assignment that led me to Old Roses.
    The woman I worked for bought a house that came with a small rose garden.
    She wanted to expand it, and add only the most highly-rated roses.
    While I was researching Modern roses for her, I kept stumbling across descriptions of Old Roses.
    I finally couldn't stand it. I ordered three roses:
    'Reine des Violettes,' 'Rosa Mundi' and 'Mme. Isaac Pereire.'
    Like Bellegallica, I discovered that Bourbons and Gallicas weren't the best roses for my climate --
    but we grew Reine des Violettes for 20 years.
    That was the most serendipitous work assignment I've ever been given. :-)

    Jeri (SoCalif)

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My story started with Mike Shoup's book Landscaping with Antique Roses a number of years ago while I lived in McKinney, north of Dallas. Actually, only a few miles from Chambersville where the test gardens have been planted.

    I planted, because of that book, Archduke Charles, Marie Pavie, Martha Gonzalez, Climbing Pinkie, Duchesse de Brabant and a few others. I was hooked. I had no idea what I was doing, but I lived close to a dairy farm and shoveled composted cow manure, along with my ever-tolerant dh, and buried banana peels and did whatever else I could to improve that shiny black gumbo that passes for soil in the Dallas area. The roses survived, despite my total ignorance.

    A number of years later, here in north Alabama I'm trying again, and the GWF has really taught me a lot about varieties and how to take care of them. Pointed me to some good books. Inspired me with pics of beautiful gardens worldwide. Amused me with some of the wacky humor here.

    And my garden is doing well, despite humidity, drought and weird weather. My beginning garden is in its 2nd year, and I'm getting blossoms and decent foliage. I am grateful for all the help here and for the companionship of others that are crazy about these beautiful plants. I wish I knew more, but I'm learning. My biggest ? is why there is such ignorance about these plants, but that's another thread.

    thanks for starting this thread,I love to hear the stories behind the passions. Annie

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Growing up near the NY Botanical Gardens!

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I bought an old house in far east Texas and it had various heirloom plants scattered about - one of them was a rose bush right in the front of the house. I started working on the yard and adding more flowers but not more roses. As I would work, different people would stop and visit with me in the front yard. Several of them were ancient ladies who told me about the rose bush- how long it had been there, how they had blossoms from it for their prom or their wedding or dates. The bush must be nearly 80 or 90 years old. I knew that it had survived with little or no care so I started reading about "antique roses". The rose is probably LaMarne but there are still questions about it. LaMarne is supposed to be nearly thornless and sets no hips but this bush has every size of thorn you can imagine and lots of them and it does set hips. So it may not be LaMarne but it is old and it has persisted and thrived and withstood the test of time - IT'S A KEEPER.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    INSANITY!!!!

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    After we built our house I wanted a rose garden and planted some hybrid teas. They never did much. My earliest memory of a rose was our family's "Sweetheart Rose", so I stuck a couple of cuttings from an elderly cousin's house. I planted a sucker of a rose my great grandmother was given a start of by an elderly neighbor back around 1910. These family roses not only grew and bloomed, but smelled good too. My friend Pat had purchsed an old farmhouse with an old rose growing and blooming (Svr. de la Malmaison.) We began searching and adding more varieties and new friends along the way.

    Lisa

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    David Austin led me to OGRs. After my first DA roses, I wanted more cupped, quartered, hundred-petaled, sinfully fragrant roses like them. So more DAs and then right to the source with some OGRs.

    It is funny how the older generation seems to prefer HT form rather than OGR. The client I garden for is elderly, and when she said she wanted roses, I thought she'd be thrilled with the DAs or OGRs. But no, a rose to her is a HT.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The Vintage Catalog, made me want to know more. It is the
    history behind the rose and the rose breeder that really
    fascinates me and draws me to a particular rose.
    Alida

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Anita, Jeri, Lisa, & Veilchen, your stories had something in them that caught my attention. And that is that many in the last two, three, or perhaps even four generations had no particular attraction to the OGRs. My grandmother is 91 years old, has loved roses all her life, and has never grown an OGR until I gave her a cutting of my Paul Neyron. She lived through the golden age of the hybrid tea. Exciting, new hybrid-tea blooms were being shown to the buying public when she was a youth. Those mental images became what a rose is to her. It is her mother's or her grandmother's roses that I cherish in my garden, but it is her love of the rose that has passed to me.

    Randy

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It is her mother's or her grandmother's roses that I cherish in my garden, but it is her love of the rose that has passed to me.
    Randy

    *** OH RANDY! YES! That is exactly right.
    And -- my grandmother grew up in a cold-water walkup early 20th-Century New York Tenement, in a poor Irish family. I don't know where SHE got her love of gardens, but she sure had it.

    Jeri

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks for the stories. It's fun to read them.

    I wonder if the rise of the Hybrid Tea went hand in hand with the rise and growth of the cut flower and florist trades. Anyone know when those began? Hybrid Teas are undeniably valuable as cut flowers. Long stems and long lasting.

    I remember reading a joke somewhere that the easist way to find the winner of an OGR rose judging is to bump the table and give the ribbon to the flower that still has petals.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Randy, you are so right about us growing the roses of several generations ago. People talk about the Sacramento cemetery roses as being like our grandmother's grew - no, they are not - our grandmothers were growing 'Peace.'

    People have been after the latest and greatest roses since fairly early in the 19th century. The old roses that we love were high fashion throughout Victorian times. The legends are all about people bringing old roses across the prairie as a reminder of home - and they did - but they also had newfound wealth and a desire to be stylish, and went to nurseries to buy the latest French and English teas, chinas, and Hybrid Perpetuals as quickly as they could be imported, propagated and sold. They moved on to Hybrid Teas because they were new and fashionable, but HTs also introduced colors and long-lasting flowers that had not been previously available. I don't know about the florist trade, but my grandmother was mighty proud of her bare-caned, stiff, garish, large-flowered HTs.

    I, too, inherited my grandma's love of roses. I think that there is a gardening gene.
    Anita

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hanging out on the forums allowed me to learn about ALL types of roses. Unfortunately I did start with HT's which at the time I thought were pretty cool - but once I saw a David Austin rose in person and smelled that wonderful fragrance I was hooked. I had never seen roses that looked like that!! At the time I was starting to research roses that were hardy for my area and decided to try a few of the OGRs as well. With none to minimal winter protection the Austins and OGRs are doing quite well in my yard. Many of the HTs I was growing have faded away since I quit winter protecting them. I'm amazed at these beautiful, fragrant OGRs that are hardy and tough as can be. THAT is my kind of rose!!

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well, first I saw the pics of the Austin roses in Heirloom's catalog, then I stumbled onto this forum and starting looking up some of the roses... the rest, as they say, is history. It's that lush look.
    Of course, all of you are way ahead of me- I only bought my first rosebush last spring ('06) because of my disastrous first experience w/ hybrid teas about 15 yrs ago. Now, I'm planning to expand my bed in front to accommodate a 3rd rose, and putting in a bed in back to accommodate 3 climbers and some bush roses, and peonies (my early flower memories center around gorgeous, fragrant peonies-I love them!). I have 4 roses planted and 4 in pots (though 2 of them are going to neighbors). I am very involved now in trying to figure out what roses will do well here w/o spraying. Brandy

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    When I was very little, my mother was struggling with keeping two climbing Peace roses in good health in the desert of west Texas, in Odessa. They grew on a trellis surrounding the window of my older brother's bedroom. I used to climb up the iron trellis and sit on the shelf under the window to read comic books and swat at the bumble bees that would amble past. Those roses were the size of the dinner plates Mother served us with!

    Later we moved back to east Texas, near my grandparents home, and I saw other types of roses. My grandmother always had a couple of old "Sweetheart Roses" (Cecile Brunner), and she would point out other old roses, and other heritage plants as well when I or a cousin would show an interest. She was NOT an avid hobby gardener- she had 13 children, (my mother was her middle 7th child), and needless to say, her hands were very full with children, grandchildren, my grandfather, being active in her church, and the Eastern Stars, among other things. She always had a neat, tidy yard, and they grew an enormous vegetable garden to feed the family, kept chickens for eggs and meat, had a couple of cows for milk and butter, etc. Their life style was one of a simpler day, and with very little "cash money", she wasn't about to spend it on flowers for her yard! When she was an old lady, she would smile at the efforts people would go to in order to maintain a St. Augustine lawn, and a bunch of landscaper designed plantings. In her day, passalong plants were about all she and her cronies had, and she loved all of them for the ease of care: plant, water during droughts, and let them fend for themselves! Anyone who lives in the south can recognize what I call the "Granny Yard": a couple of OGRs, some honeysuckle that has to be beaten back every few years to keep it from taking over the world, a wisteria of the same ambitious nature, a magnolia, a pecan, a couple of oaks or ashes, a warty looking "toothache tree", maybe a willow if there is a pond nearby, a bunch of volunteer onions and garlics here and there, oh, and of course the easter lilies of yesteryear in a bed at the back corner of the house...

    'Fess up. You have all visited this house! I know you have!

    In my twenties as a young mother I played at gardening, and suffered disappointment after disappointment when my hybrid teas and grandifloras would croak for lack of high culture. I just could not make myself get too excited about anything that was that high maintenance. One year my mother in law mentioned that one of my sister's in law wanted a "start" of her old "Sweetheart Rose", and asked if I would like one too. That sparked the memory, and soon I had my own little Cecile growing in my yard. I have moved away, and didn't know about cuttings back then, so I didn't preserve that plant through the years. But luckily it is one that is widely available. I filed away for future reference the note that those old garden roses really are tough as an old boot.

    We bought this home in 1999, and when I was ready to finally start a real garden, I was introduced to the Antique Rose Emporium here in Texas. From there I learned about rose rustling, about all the classes of old roses and the modern shrubs that seem superior to hybrid teas. That was at least 300 roses ago. And counting.

    ~Allison

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I must have always loved roses. I can remember as just a young girl one Saturday when my family was shopping. It must have been around Mother's Day or my momma's birthday (June). My mother was in JC Penneys, and I had gone next door to Woolworth's. I saw this beautiful pink (plastic!) rose, and I bought it. Don't even remember where the money came from. I immediately ran next door and presented it to my mother. I was certainly proud of that rose. She kept it for as long as I can remember! I can also remember as a child noticing people's roses and flowers. My mother wasn't a big gardener, but she always had a few plants. Her sister(my Aunt Callie), however, was an avid gardener. I also remember her wonderful goldfish pond. About 4 years ago I bought a new home. It had a goldfish pond! I wanted a cottage type garden for my new home. I went with my sister and niece to the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, TX. It was love at first sight! I now grow around 130 old garden roses mostly. I have also incorporated other flowers in with the roses. I am having a lot of fun and gardening is relaxing for me.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yes, many a Sunday was spent in the yards Allison described! Just add althea, crinums,seed petunias, orange ditch lilies, lantana and an abelia full of big old swallowtails. Would love to pass away another afternoon in such a place.

    These yards, with their frugal gardeners, often contained no name roses, grown from a start here and there, passed from a friend, from so and so's old homeplace, the cemetery where Aunt Sally's second little boy was buried etc., have had a hand in preserving many an old rose for us to "discover" and enjoy.

    Lisa

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Here in NE La., the gardens around the old frame homes, modest or palatial, are filled with HUGE camellias. They are not planted in borders or beds but planted singly around the yard. Today, they would be called specimens. I'm sure the lady of the house was given a "start" by a neighbor and now these camellias are 20 ft. tall. My mother's best friend and her husband propagated camellias as a hobby. Needless to say, I love them. Every Christmas, our house would have a crystal bowl with red camellias floating in it. Lottie also had a gigantic New Dawn which I fell in love with. My mother ordered me one from a Cal. nursery in the early 80's. That was my first old garden rose. Buff

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    One of the contributing factors was the fragrance of the old pink damask that used to be in my parents' back yard. It never did have a name, but it sure smelled good when it bloomed. Another factor was that I found I could win a few prizes at rose shows with OGRs that I couldn't get with hybrid teas. Everyone knew, somehow, that hybrid teas were the only roses that should be grown because you could win queen of show with them. Mine were never quite that good. Floribundas, grandifloras, and miniatures were okay, but the OGRs were definitely looked down upon. I didn't like that attitude. I still don't. They have a charm of their own, and I like to have a mix of things in my garden. However, I could win Dowager Queen, and I did with a General Jacqueminot at one point and an Arthur de Sansal at another point. When I found that not all OGRs were once-blooming, I added the Portlands and hybrid perpetuals to my collections. I still like the fact that many of the old roses have such a rich smell. That was so evident at the last judging school audit I did when I was still in the Tacoma area where they focused on OGRs, shrubs, and climbers, all groups that too many judges seemingly would rather pass up. People brought all kinds of flowers, predominantly the old roses for the school. They were on display in the hall of the hotel for use in the sessions. You should have smelled the hall. Someone even had a Harison's Yellow in bloom. I had never seen one. It was pretty. So, now I have a number of OGRs, all cherished for what they are. That is my story.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    No question. This forum led me to OGRs although I had a few OGRs sooner.

    Many years ago I read somewhere that OGRs do well in the humid southeast. I bought the ARS handbook of roses and ordered a few roses that had very high ratings. I recall that Baronne Prevost was rated as 8.7 or so and Rose de Recht also had very high rating. I got these and Duchesse de Brabant and maybe a few others like Zephirine Drouhin.
    I was very disappointed with the result. DdB was not 'bulletproof' but healthier than most roses I grew but I could not detect any fragrance (I still have problem sensing tea fragrance.). Baronne P. was deliciously fragrant but very prone to blackspot and needed a lot of extra help to bloom in the heat of the summer. Rose de Recht had horrid ugly spots or rather 'crude' as it is called here. I loved Zephirine though, found that it wasn't very difficult to grow, needed spraying but less than Baronne Prevost or Rose de Recht. And was thornless. Next year I got my first Noisette, Aimee Vibert but we didn't like the many little white flowers turning into used brown tissue paper in half a day. Gruss an Aachen was the only relatively 'old' rose that was absolutely wonderful in every sense. I saw no old roses in this town except the once bloomer lady Banks that demanded more space that I could afford.

    In any case, based on this experience I did not feel the urge to collect more OGRs till I started reading this forum. Jean and Crepuscule changed my mind forever. Crepuscule was everything that I was promised an OGR should offer. Now I have a number of OGRs that are truly "no-spray", constant bloomers and graceful, beautiful plants. (I hasten to add that I have moderns, too, that are "no spray") I also had fallen for some older roses that are not antique but do very well for me, notably Hybrid Musks. Since I have a small yard I do not grow once bloomers but every year I experiment with several new OGRs. Some are good, some are very good and some are not so good.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    An antique roses catalog. The written descriptions were wonderful. I don't even remember how the catalog landed in my hands but I still have it today as a reference.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    When we bought our house there were some of the ugliest HT's in the front. I wanted to redo the yard and had always liked the drawings of antique plants so I started to look for sources on line and I came acrose a sight that also had OGR's and I was hooked.

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