Albas - White Roses

They are a beautiful and intrepid group, going far back in time, and although there is some uncertainty about their origins and the early parentage of the original form, a few cultivars certainly existed in medieval times. Their foliage, fruit and stems are rather similar to R. canina, if more refined, supporting the belief that they are all derived from this species, the other parent being either R. damascena or R. gallica. All of the dozen or so cultivars of this group grown today are blessed with a strong constitution and start to flower in mid to late June. Few other types of rose can match their refinement of texture and quality of perfume.

The alba roses produce relatively small flowers - 2 - 3 1/2 in (5-9cm) across - in soft shades of cream, white, or light pink, and they bloom just once each year, flowering only in late spring or early summer. The alba roses need some winter cold if they are to flourish, and they do not thrive in the warmer regions of the Southwest and Southeast where winters are virtually frost free. In addition to their cold tolerance, the alba roses also exhibit a remarkable resistance to diseases and pests. The alba roses are truly carefree roses. Most form naturally mounded, graceful shrubs that need little pruning.

'Alba Maxima' Roses (Introduced - prior to 1867)
The flowers of this rose are relatively small- 2 1/2 - 3 in (6.3 - 7.5cm) in diameter -but full, packed with as many as 200 petals, and they carry a truly heady perfume. Like all albas, this cultivar is once-blooming, but it provides color later in the season with a crop of attractive hips.
A favorite subject of the Renaissance painters, this rose gained notoriety as the symbol of Britain's exiled Stuart kings. Today this long-cultivated rose remains popular not only for its beauty but also for its hardiness and ability to thrive under difficult growing conditions, including partial shade.

'Alba Semi-Plena' Roses (Introduced - prior 1600)
'Alba Semi-Plena' rose is also known as the White Rose of York. Its semi-double white flowers are 2 1/2 inches across with prominent golden stamens, and they produce a powerful old garden fragrance. Borne in clusters, flowers appear in midseason and do not repeat. Elongated orange-red hips appear in late summer and fall. The foliage is gray-green.
With sturdy, arching canes that develop a vase-shaped form, 'Alba Semi-Plena' can be grown as a freestanding shrub for a specimen or for use in borders, or it can be trained as a climber on a wall, a trellis, or a fence. Like other alba roses, this rose tolerates some shade and is quite hardy and disease resistant.

'Celestial' Roses (Introduced - 1848)
The 3 1/2-inch blooms of 'Celestial' rose are sweetly fragrant. Borne in clusters, flowers are semi-double and pale blush pink with golden stamens, and they are particularly attractive as the delicate petals unfurl. Flowering occurs in summer with no repeat. The soft blue-gray foliage provides an exquisite contrast to the flowers.
This vigorous rose requires a large space in the garden. Usually as wide as they are tall, the shrubs make outstanding specimens with their complementary flower and foliage tones. Plants are shade tolerant and require only moderate pruning; heavy pruning should be avoided.

'Félicité Parmentier' Roses (Introduced - 1834)
As a group, the alba roses are large shrubs, and their vigorous growth can overwhelm a small garden. 'Félicité Parmentier' is an exception, a more mannerly shrub that doesn't jostle its neighbors. Its blossoms are one of the sweetest pleasures of early summer. Borne in clusters, they are a soft pink in color, saucer-shaped, and "quartered" -the petals are clustered so as to form four distinct quadrants within the circular flower - and the center of each is a green "eye", rather like the button at the center of an overstuffed sofa cushion. When not in bloom, this shrub provides a visually restful mass of attractive gray-green foliage.

'Great Maiden's Blush' Roses (Introduced - prior to 1600)
The 2- to 3-inch double flowers of 'Great Maiden's Blush' are white with a delicate pink blush. As a blossom matures, its outer petals reflex and fade to a pale cream, while the center remains blush pink. Borne in clusters in early summer, blooms do not repeat. They have an exceptionally sweet fragrance. Foliage is lush and blue-gray, providing a lovely foil for the softly colored flowers.
This rose is a vigorous grower, well branched and arching. This rose makes a fine garden shrub for large beds and an attractive informal hedge. This rose is very hardy.

'Königin von Dänemarck' Roses (Introduced - 1826)
The most brightly colored of the alba roses, the flowers of 'Königin von Dänemarck' open a brilliant pink but then gradually fade, ending up neatly white. With this distinctive coloration, these flowers also offer an unusually elegant form. They are neatly quartered, with as many as three, four, or five divisions among the petals and a button-eye center. In addition, they are outstandingly fragrant. Though somewhat coarse, the blue-green leaves are the ideal color to set off the warmth of the flowers. Sometimes planted as a hedge, this rose can become leggy if not restrained by an annual shortening of the canes after it finishes blooming in early summer.
'Madame Legras de St. Germain' Roses (Introduced - 1846)
The very double, 3 1/2-inch blooms of 'Madame Legras de St. Germain' are white with a rich, creamy center and bursting with 200 petals. The plants flower once per season and remain in bloom for several weeks, although the blooms don't stand up well to wet weather. Their sweet fragrance is very strong. Soft gray-green foliage provides a lovely foil for the flowers. Canes are nearly smooth.
This rose is a vigorous grower and can be maintained as a 6- to 7-foot shrub or trained on a support, in which case it can reach 12 to 15 feet. Its habit is upright and arching. The plant is well suited to beds, where it combines nicely with perennials. Flowers are good for cutting. This rose tolerates partial shade and is disease resistant.

'Madame Plantier' Roses (Introduced - 1835)
The very double blooms of 'Madame Plantier' are creamy white, with a green button eye. Borne in large clusters, the 2 1/2- to 3-inch flowers completely cover the plant in early to midseason; they do not recur. Blooms are somewhat flattened, and they are extremely fragrant. Leaves and stems are a light gray-green.
A vigorous grower, this rose has a spreading, lax, bushy habit suitable for large gardens. As a shrub it can easily spread to 6 feet wide, and it can also be trained to climb a pillar or trellis. 'Madame Plantier' is very hardy as well as disease and shade tolerant.

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