Damask roses are distinguished by their exceptional fragrance, which is one of their top characteristics. This quality of damask roses is very rewarding for gardeners. However, it has made the flowers of this rose variety a valuable commercial crop. In fact, these flowers are the source of attar prepared from roses – the source of many perfumes as well as cosmetics.
While the scent of damask roses is very strong, the colors of their flowers are generally very delicate and the hues vary from creamy whites to soft pinks, and sometimes there could be a red too. Even the size of damask roses is modest. An individual flower of this rose may measure about 1 ¾ inches (3.4 cm) in diameter, especially in cultivators bearing the smallest blooms.
However, on an average a damask rose may measure anything between 2 ½ inches and 3 inches (6.4 cm and 7.6 cm) across. Going by legends, returning Crusaders carried with them the maiden damask roses home from the Syrian city of Damascus.
It is worth mentioning here that damask roses are at their best especially when they are grown in relatively arid climatic conditions prevailing in the western United States. They are reliable, hardy and produce thorny, long-legged shrubs.
The damask roses are capable of easily accommodating themselves in the sunny peripheries of any woodland, where they are able to endure partial shade as well as poor soils and still continue to flourish.
‘Autumn Damask’ Roses
Introduced – ancient
‘Autumn Damask’ rose, also known as ‘Quatre Saisons’, is an early rose and bears profusion of richly scented flowers during spring. After this, the plants bloom sparingly all through the summer and even fall. Each flower of this damask rose cultivar measures about 3 ½ inches in diameter.
The flowers are double with clear pink and deeper centers. Breeders have utilized ‘Autumn Damask’ rose for creating bourbon roses as well as the hybrid perpetual roses. The foliage of this damask rose variety has a pale gray-green color. The plants of ‘Autumn damask’ rose are vigorous growers and reach a medium height.
They have a spreading habit and are fairly hardy. This rose is capable of enduring pruning much better compared to most damask roses. The flowering season of ‘Autumn Damask’ rose is long and this makes a precious contribution to garden beds and borders. The flowers have a strong wine fragrance and the flowers are effective for making potpourri.
Introduced – prior to 1750
This antique damask rose cultivar is believed to have its origin in The Netherlands and, in the mid-18th century, it was introduced in France, which was then the rose capital of the world. Monsieur Cels, a Parisian nurseryman, is credited for introducing ‘Celsiana’ rose to France.
Irrespective of this rose’s background, this damask cultivar is an exceptionally graceful rose which bears semi-double, pale pink hued blossoms having silky and dishevelled petals that surround attractive golden stamens. The flowers possess a breathtaking damask fragrance.
The beautiful flowers of this damask cultivar create a wonderful contrast with the cool, gray-green hued foliage, which makes an extremely pleasant sight. Similar to most other damask roses, ‘Celsiana’ also grows into a tall shrub and produces arching canes.
This damask rose especially performs well when grown in areas in the upper part of the Southeast. ‘Celsiana’ rose requires a lot of encouragement in the form of good soil and an airy and sunny spot. When the plants are provided with the above mentioned facilities, it will help them to remain healthy throughout the summer in the upper part of the Southeast.
Introduced – 1832
The blooms of ‘Ispahan’ roses, also known as ‘Pompon des Princes’, are double and very fragrant and they are borne in abundance for more than two months at the beginning of the growing season and also in midseason. However, this rose does not repeat blooms.
The flowers of ‘Ispahan’ rose appear in clusters and the individual flower has a vivid clear pink hue. The flowers of this damask cultivar are cup-shaped and loosely reflexing. The blooms last for a long time maintaining their shape as well as color perfectly. Individual flowers measure anything between 2 ½ inches and 3 inches in diameter.
The foliage of this rose is small and has a blue-green cast. ‘Ispahan’ rose is a bushy plant with an upright habit. Since the flowering season of this rose is relatively long compared to any other damask, it is not only valued as a garden shrub, but also as an excellent source of cut flowers. The plants are vigorous growers, fairly hardy and resistant to rose diseases.
Introduced – 1827
”Leda’ rose, also known as ‘Painted Damask’ bears double flowers each measuring anything between 2 ½ inches and 4 inches. The flowers of this damask cultivar are extremely fragrant. This rose produces reddish brown buds that unfurl into flowers the color of whose petals varies from milky white to blush pink with the edges having crimson markings.
The petals reflex to develop into a ball-shaped flower. ‘Leda’ also has a pink sport. The leaves of both the varieties of ‘Leda’ rose have a gray-green color and are downy. ‘Leda’ rose is a rounded, compact shrub.
Moreover, this damask rose has a tidy habit, which makes it useful for growing in garden beds and borders. This is a hardy plant and has a preference for cooler climates. On the other hand, the plants languish when grown in places where the summers are extremely hot.
‘Madame Hardy’ Roses
Introduced – 1832
‘Madame Hardy’ is a popular damask cultivar that bears very double, large, fragrant while blooms. Each flower of this rose has a green eye at its center. On the most part, this damask rose may not experience enough chilling even when grown in a particularly placid winter in southern California and still continue to flower in the following spring.
In addition to the flowers of this rose, ‘Madame Hardy’ possesses exceptional adaptability. In fact, it grows excellently in the Southeast, for instance at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. At the same time, you may find this shrub thriving in desertion in the ghost towns located in the California gold country.
‘Marie Louise’ Roses
Introduced – 1813
The blossoms of ‘Marie Louise’ rose are huge and very double. The flowers are so heavy that they practically weigh down the branches’ end. This damask rose bears flowers that have a radiant mauve-pink hue having reflexed petals that are quartered around a green button eye at the center. The flowers have a rich fragrance that reminds one of lemon.
When the blooms are completely open, they are rather flattened. The foliage of this rose is dense and the canes produce very few thorns. The plants of ‘Marie Louise’ rose have a bushy nature and are compact, which makes them effective as shrubs ideal for growing in garden beds and borders, especially in small gardens. The form of this rose is arching as well as graceful. Similar to other damask roses, ‘Marie Louise’ is also rather hardy.
‘Rose de Rescht’ Roses
Introduced – 1940
Different from its relatives that bloom only once in a year, ‘Rose de Rescht’ bears a large flush of blooms towards the end of spring or at the onset of summer and repeats its blooms again with a heave of strongly scented flowers in fall. When the flowers unfurl they have a fuchsia-crimson hue and as they mature, their color fades to soft lilac.
The reblooming habit of this damask cultivar coupled with the compacted size of the shrub as well as the traditional attraction of the flowers make ‘Rose de Rescht’ and exceptional as well as a very valuable rose. You may easily tuck this rose into tight corners easily to add some old-fashioned allure to any small garden. In addition, this rose is also a typical and attractive plant for growing in containers.
‘York and Lancaster’ Roses
Introduced – prior to 1629
‘York and Lancaster’ rose bears loosely double flowers having white and pale pink petals. All flowers of this damask cultivar may sometimes have only one color on a plant. On the other hand, flowers of some plants may sometimes be mixed in multicoloured splotches. Each flower of ‘York and Lancaster’ measures about 1 ½ inches to 2 ½ inches across.
The flowers appear in clusters only once in a year. The leaves of this rose have a pale gray-green color. The plants are arching and grow up to a height of 5 feet or even more.
Often this rose was confused with ‘Rosa Mundi’ and it was named ‘York and Lancaster’ to celebrate the end of the War of the Roses (1433-1485). Nevertheless, ‘York and Lancaster’ is not the rose whose discovery is believed to have encouraged rose lovers for the truce.