Albas or the white rose is a group of beautiful and bold roses. Looking into their ancestry, even though the precise parentage of these roses or their origin is not known, it is believed that some of the cultivars existed even in the medieval times.
The fruit, foliage and stems of albas are very akin to those of R. canina. This lends some credence to the belief that all albas have their origin in this rose species, while their other parent is either R. gallica or R. damascene.
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In present times, about a dozen cultivars of albas are grown in various regions of the world and all of them have been bestowed with a strong composition and they are in bloom from mid-June to late June. In fact, very few other roses are able to equal the refinement of their texture or the excellence of their fragrance.
The blooms of alba roses are relatively small, measuring only 2 ½ inches to 3 ½ inches (5 cm to 9 cm) in diameter. The flowers have soft hues of white, cream or pale pink and the plants are in bloom only once in a year.
Usually, they bloom in the later part of spring or at the onset of summer. If you want the alba roses to flourish, you ought to provide them with some winter cold. In fact, these roses do not prosper in warmer regions such as in the Southeast and Southwest, where there is practically no frost during the winter months.
Aside from their ability to endure cold conditions during winter, alba roses are also capable of resisting diseases as well as pests. Moreover, these roses are really carefree. Most alba roses naturally form mounded, elegant shrubs that require very little pruning.
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Introduced - prior to 1867
'Alba Maxima' bears relatively small flowers, each measuring about 2 ½ inches to 3 inches (6.3 cm to 7.5 cm) across. On the other hand, the flowers are full, packed with 200 petals. The blooms have a genuinely heady fragrance.
Similar to all other alba roses, this cultivar also blooms only once in a season. However, the plants offer color even later in the season by producing a crop of beautiful hips.
'Alba Maxima' rose was one of the favourite subjects of painters from the Renaissance period. However, this rose gained some disrepute as it was the symbol of the exiled British Stuart kings.
In present times, this long-cultivated rose not only continues to be popular among rose lovers for its beauty, but also for the hardiness of the plants and their ability to flourish even in hard growing conditions, which also includes partial shade.
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Introduced - prior 1600
Also known as the White Rose of York, 'Alba Semi-Plena' bears semi-double blooms each measuring 2 ½ inches in diameter and comprising outstanding golden hued stamens. In addition, the flowers of this rose cultivar have a potent old garden fragrance.
The flowers appear in clusters during the midseason and do not repeat bloom. After the flowering season is over, the plants produce elongated, orange-red hued hips towards the end of summer and also in fall. The foliage of this rose is grey-green.
The stems of 'Alba Semi-Plena' are sturdy and arching developing into a vase-shaped appearance. You may grow 'Alba Semi-Plena' in the form of a freestanding (independent) specimen shrub or use the plants as a border.
Alternatively, you may also train the plants to grow as a climber on a trellis, a wall or on a fence. Similar to all other albas, this cultivar is also capable of enduring some shade. At the same time, it is somewhat hardy and resists diseases well.
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Introduced - 1848
The flowers of 'Celestial' rose have a sweet fragrance and they are borne in clusters. The blooms of this cultivar are semi-double, have a light blush pink hue with the petals surrounding vivid golden hued stamens.
The flowers are especially eye-catching when the petals unfurl. This rose blooms in summer but does not repeat bloom like all other albas. The foliage is soft blue-grey providing a beautiful contrast to the flowers.
This is a vigorous rose that needs a large space to grow properly. More often than not, the plants are tall and the shrubs make exceptional specimens owing to their matching flowers and tone of the foliage.
The plants are capable of enduring shade and only require reasonable pruning. You should always avoid pruning this cultivar heavily.
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Introduced - 1834
When you consider them as a group, alba roses are actually large shrubs and they have such a vigorous growth that it can be overwhelming when planted in small gardens.
However, 'Félicité Parmentier' is considered to be an exemption, as this is a more orderly shrub that does not push its neighbours. The flowers of this cultivar are among the sweetest delights at the beginning of summer.
The flowers are borne in clusters and they have a soft pink color. They are saucer-shaped and quartered. In other words, the petals of this rose are grouped in such a way that they form for separate quadrants contained by the spherical flower.
At the center of each flower there is a green button eye - somewhat like a button in the middle of a packed sofa cushion. When the plants are not in bloom, they provide a visually soothing mass of eye-catching grey-green foliage.
Introduced - prior to 1600
The flowers of 'Great Maiden's Blush' rose are double and white having a subtle pink blush and measure about 2 inches to 3 inches across. The color of the outer petals fades to light cream and they reflex as the flowers mature.
The flowers are borne in clusters in the beginning of the summer, but they do not repeat bloom. The flowers of this cultivar have an outstanding sweet scent.
The foliage of 'Great Maiden's Blush' is verdant and has a blue-gray color, which provides a attractive foil o the soft-coloured blooms. 'Great Maiden's Blush' grows vigorously and the plants are arching as well as well branched.
This alba cultivar makes a wonderful garden shrub for growing in large garden beds and also in the form of an attractive casual hedge. In addition, this rose is also extremely hardy.
Introduced - 1826
'Königin von Dänemarck' is considered to be the most vibrantly coloured among all alba roses. The flowers of this rose unfurl into radiant pink, but gradually their color fades and ends up being almost white.
Along with their characteristic hues, these flowers also have an elegant form. The blooms of 'Königin von Dänemarck' are tidily quartered, having as many as three to five divisions among the petals, with a button eye in the center.
Moreover, the flowers have an exceptional fragrance. While the leaves of this rose are coarse to some extent, their blue-green color is deal to bring forth the tenderness of the flowers.
At times, this rose is grown as a hedge, but it can turn out to be leggy if you do not maintain them properly. In order to keep them in right shape you need to shorten the canes once every year after the plants complete their blooming season in the beginning of the summer.
Introduced - 1846
The flowers of 'Madame Legras de St. Germain' rose are very double, each measuring about 3 ½ inches across. The flowers are white, while their centers are rich creamy. Each flower of this alba rose is composed of as many as 200 petals.
The plants flower only once in each growing season, but they remain in bloom for several weeks together. However, the flowers are not able to endure wet weather conditions. The flowers of 'Madame Legras de St. Germain' have a very strong, sweet fragrance.
The foliage is soft gray-green and created a beautiful contrast with the flowers. The canes are smooth - almost without thorns. 'Madame Legras de St. Germain' rose is a very vigorous grower and you may maintain the shrub up to a height of 6 feet to 7 feet.
Alternatively you may train the plant to grow as a climber and in this case it may reach up to anything between 12 feet and 15 feet. This rose has an arching and upright habit.
'Madame Legras de St. Germain' is ideal for growing in garden beds where it will mix excellently with perennials. The flowers of this alba rose are excellent for use as cut flowers. This rose possesses the ability to endure partial shade and it is also resistant to diseases.
Introduced - 1835
'Madame Plantier' rose bears very double flowers that have a creamy white hue, while the color of the button eye is green. The blooms appear in clusters and each flower measures anything between 2 ½ inches and 3 inches across.
When in full bloom from the beginning to midseason, the flowers cover the plants completely. However, the flowers of this rose do not repeat bloom. As far as the form of the flowers is concerned, they are rather flattened and are heavily fragrant.
The leaves as well as the stems have a light gray-green color. 'Madame Plantier' rose grows vigorously and has a bushy, spreading and lax habit. This rose is ideal for growing in a large garden.
When grown in the form of a shrub, this alba rose can effortlessly spread to 6 feet in width. Alternatively, you may also train the plants to grow as a climber and grow on a trellis or a pillar. 'Madame Plantier' is disease resistant, very hardy and can also endure shade.