Bourbon Roses

On the heels of introduction of Portland rose in the market, another new species of rose appeared on the scene, this time again quite unexpectedly. The new race of rose was the wanton old China rose called ‘Parson’s Pink’, which is presently more familiar as ‘Old Bush’.

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It is said that this rose played a role in cohabiting with the Damask rose known as ‘Quatre Saisons’ on the Ile de Bourbon - a small island in the southern part of the Indian Ocean, which has now been christened to Reunion. In this island, people used roses in the form of partition hedges.

As a result of the union between ‘Parson’s Pink’ or ‘Old Bush’ and ‘Quatre Saisons’ gave birth to localized rose plants, which the islanders commonly referred to as ‘Rose Edouard’. Similar to several colonials, these localized roses a blend of local and the invader, as they seem to possess a normal cross of the European garden rose with an Asian rose variety.

Irrespective of its origin, several nurserymen in France became aware of its potential and they used it extensively for crossing as well as re-crossing, thereby giving rise to a range of rose shrubs that blossom continuously and in due course they spread across the globe and were grown in gardens worldwide having no or very little competition till the nineteenth century.

Even today, some of these roses continue to be favourites of rose lovers across the world. The Bourbon roses share many of the attributes of their European and Asian parents. Like their European parents, these roses are cold hardy. On the other hand, similar to their Asian parents, Bourbon roses re-bloom.

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While Bourbon roses do not blossom continuously like the hybrid tea roses, but they produce the major volume of their flowers in an intense surge during the later part of spring or at the onset of summer. However, they bear flowers intermittently throughout the summer till fall.

These attributes make Bourbon roses a wonderful selection of gardeners who desire to combine a prolonged blooming season with the richness as well as fragrance of old fashioned roses. The flowers of Bourbon rose are large and sometimes they are even huge, which often makes a nearly perfect sphere of crepe petals.

The flowers have an intense fragrance and the shrubs have a tendency to be vigorous growers. Owing to the Asian linkage of Bourbon rose, they perform very well when grown in the South and also the North.

Moreover, they are not bothered by the summer heat and humidity that prevails in the Mid-Atlantic States as well as the upper Southeast and gardeners there often look for other varieties of roses. When grown in the Deep South, these roses may require regular spraying with fungicides.

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'Boule de Neige' Roses

Introduced - 1867

When fully open, the external petals of the double white blooms of ‘Boule de Neige’ (also known as ‘ball of snow’ roll back at their tips, giving the blossoms the appearance of a rounded, snow ball. The flowers of this Bourbon rose variety appear in clusters and they have creamy hue instead of being snow white.

The fragrance of the blooms is potent and similar to that of damask rose. This particular Bourbon rose performs extremely well when grown in the Southeast. However, the plants may be susceptible to black spot in such climatic conditions during midsummer.

‘Boule de Neige’ is a vigorously growing shrub that produces long and arching canes which can be wreathed around a pillar or tied down to grow along a fence. When grown behind a garden bed or border, this rose takes advantage of the space to flex its muscles freely.

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'Gipsy Boy' Roses

Introduced - 1909

There is some disagreement over whether ‘Gipsy Boy’ rose actually belongs to the Bourbons. While the breeder of this rose, a German nurseryman named Peter Lambert classified this rose as Bourbon, he refused to divulge the parentage of ‘Gipsy Boy’.

As a result, the truth about the rose’s ancestry will never come to the fore. However, two things are sure - it is very easy to grow this rose, and when the plants are in full bloom, the long and arching canes bend over due to the weight of the small crimson-purple flowers. During this period, the plants look fantastic.

The foliage of this rose is generally healthy, but rather coarse, while the canes produce plenty of thorns. “Gipsy Boy’ should never be grown in the flower bed or in any formal location. On the other hand, this rose is a wonderful selection for use in the form of a landscape shrub. Alternatively, you may plant ‘Gipsy Boy’ down the edge of a meadow.

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'Honorine de Brabant' Roses

‘Honorine de Brabant’ rose bears soft pink hued flower that are striped as well as spotted with deeper shades of crimson, violet and mauve. The main surge of flowers appears in midsummer and the plants repeat bloom well. During fall, the flowers of this Bourbon have a propensity to bleaching due to the hot sun.

The flowers of ‘Honorine de Brabant’ are double, quartered and have a loosely cupped form. Each flower of this rose measures anything between 3 ½ inches and 4 inches across and has a raspberry scent.

The foliage is large, has a pale green hue and a leathery texture. The canes are green and they produce large prickles, though less in number. The plants of ‘Honorine de Brabant’ are large, bushy and vigorous growers.

When grown in the form of a shrub, this rose is almost as wide as it is tall. You may train the plants to grow as a climber. The plants are very compact and compared to many other Bourbon roses, they bloom more continuously.

'La Reine Victoria' Roses

Introduced - 1872

‘La Reine Victoria’ rose bears double blossoms and their color varies from lilac-pink to deep rose. The color of the flowers turn deeper when grown under bright sun. The delicately looking flowers have a silky texture and they are cup shaped and rounded and they are held well above the verdant soft green foliage.

The petals are well shaped and overlapping. The flowers have a potent fruity fragrance. ‘Madame Pierre Oger’ a color sport of ‘La Reine Victoria’, bears creamy, flesh-colored flowers. Aside from this, they are alike in all other aspects.

The plants of ‘La Reine Victoria’ are upright, slender as well as graceful; making a gorgeous specimen. This rose is suitable for growing in garden beds or borders. Since the flowers are borne on long stems, they are excellent for use as cut flowers. ‘La Reine Victoria’ as well as its sport ‘Madame Pierre Oger’ are both vulnerable to black spot.

'Louise Odier' Roses

Introduced - 1851

‘Louise Odier’ rose bears vivid pink hued blooms having soft shades of lilac. The flowers appear in abundance in midsummer and then repeat again until the fall. The flowers of this Bourbon rose are double and cupped and they have a resemblance to camellias.

The petals of ‘Louise Odier’ are quartered and they have a deliciously rich fragrance. The flowers are heavy and appear in clusters. Their weight often bows down the branches, thereby producing an elegant and arching effect.

The plants of ‘Louise Odier’ are vigorous growers and have an upright habit. They produce slender canes and have been a favourite selection for growing in Victorian gardens. This rose makes a graceful shrub, while you may also train the plant to grow as a climber on a pillar or a post. It is hardy as well as resistant to rose diseases.

'Madame Isaac Pereire' Roses

Introduced - 1881

‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ bears magenta hued blooms that appear all through the summer and reach their peak only until fall. The flowers are double and each measure anything between 3 inches and 6 inches across - much of it subject to the climatic conditions of the place where they are grown. The petals are quartered and rolled at their edges.

The flowers have a pleasant fruity fragrance that are perhaps the most scented among all types of roses. In fact, you may dry the flowers of ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ for potpourris. The foliage of this rose is large, has a dark green hue and is semi-glossy.

The plants are bushy in nature with a rather spreading habit. You may grow ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ rose in the form of a freestanding shrub. A climbing variety of this rose is also available and it may be trained to grow on a fence or trellis.

The climbing version grows up to 12 feet. The plants of this rose are hardy, tough and vigorous growers. They are able to endure poor soil. ‘Madame Ernest Calvat’ is a color sport of ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ and it bears pale lavender-pink blooms.

'Madame Pierre Oger' Roses

Introduced - 1878

‘Madame Pierre Oger’ is a sport of ‘La Reine Victoria’ and this Bourbon rose is identical to its parent in nearly all aspects. The only difference is that the flowers of ‘Madae Pierre Oger’ are blush pink that develop a rosy cast when they are fully open.

'Souvenir de la Malmaison' Roses

Introduced - 1843

‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ rose is among the few Bourbons that may be found in old country gardens in the Southeast and this rose attains perfection in the arid warmth of the Southwest. While this rose is hardy and also a good performer in the North, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ actually has a preference for a warm climate.

People who have seen this rose at its peak performance describe it as the classic old rose. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ rose produces creamy blush pink blooms that are not only large, but also quartered and flat.

The petals of this rose form a natural cross and they have a pleasant spicy fragrance. This rose is unique among all Bourbons because the plants seldom grow beyond a height of 3 feet (0.9 meters). You may plant this rose is small gardens of even grow them in the form of container plants.

'Variegata di Bologna' Roses

Introduced - 1909

The color of any two flowers of ‘Variegata di Bologna’ is never exactly same, as the white petals have individual stripes of a variety of shades of purple and crimson. The flowers of this rose are very double, each measuring anything between 3 inches and 4 inches across. The flowers are globular but as they mature they become flattened and quartering.

The blooms appear in clusters of as many as three to five and they have a potent and long-lasting scent. The blooms appear abundantly in midseason but they repeat sparingly, if at all they do.

The plants produce narrow and glossy leaves, while the canes are almost smooth. The bushy plants have a vigorous growth and they are upright and slender. The plants are very adaptable when grown in a landscape.

You may train their long and flexible canes to climb a fence, pillar or trellis without much difficulty. Alternatively, the plants can also be pegged. When you prune the plants heavily it will produce a denser shrub that may grow up to a height of 4 feet to 5 feet. This rose is suited for growing as borders. The flowers are useful as cut flowers.

'Zephirine Drouhin' Roses

Introduced - 1868

‘Zephirine Drouhin’ rose bears loosely formed, semi-double, cerise-pink hued blooms, each measuring about 3 ½ inches to 4 inches in diameter. The flowers appear in abundance in spring and they keep blooming sporadically until fall. In fall, the plants again produce a heavy flush of flowers.

The flowers have a very sweet fragrance. The young leaves of ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ rose plants have a coppery purple color and when they mature their color changes to dark green. The canes are almost smooth with very few prickles.

The plants of this rose have a vigorous growth and they are upright having a semi-climbing habit. You may prune the plants and maintain them as shrubs growing in a large border or display them in the form of a specimen plant.

The plants make an excellent formal hedge. Alternatively, you may train the plants to grow as a climber of a fence, a trellis, or porch where they may grow up to a height of about 20 feet. Since the plants do not have thorns, they are an excellent selection for growing close of play areas or walkways.

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