Bourbon Roses

Soon after the Portland roses appeared, another new race of roses came about, again by chance. It was the promiscuous old China rose 'Parson's Pink', now better known as 'Old Blush', which played its part by cohabiting, it is said, with the Damask 'Quatre Saisons' on the lIe de Bourbon, an island in the southern Indian Ocean, now renamed Reunion, where roses were used as partition hedges. The results of this union were localized plants of a rose commonly called by the islanders 'Rose Edouard'. Like many colonials, these roses represented a blending of invader and local, for it seems to have been a natural cross of European garden rose with an Asian one.

Whatever its origins, several French nurserymen recognized its potential and it was used extensively for crossing and recrossing, so giving rise to a range of mostly continuously flowering shrub roses which were to adorn gardens worldwide, with very little competition, well into the nineteenth century. Some of these remain favorites to this day.

Like their European parent, the Bourbon roses are cold hardy, and like their Asian ancestor, they rebloom. These roses do not produce flowers as continuously as hybrid teas; instead, they bear the bulk of their flowers in a heavy surge in late spring and early summer, though they do continue to flower sporadically through the summer and into fall. This makes them an excellent choice for the gardener who wants to combine a longer blooming season with old-fashioned richness and perfume.

The Bourbon's flowers are large, even huge, often making an almost perfect globe of crepe petals. Their perfumes are intense, and the shrubs tend to be vigorous. Because of their Asian roots, these roses perform well in the South as well as the North, and they are not fazed by the combination of summer heat and humidity that make the Mid-Atlantic states and the upper Southeast a trial for other kinds of roses. In the Deep South, they are likely to need regular spraying with fungicides.

'Boule de Neige' Roses (Introduced - 1867)
When the double white flowers of 'Boule de Neige' (ball of snow) are fully open, the outer petals roll back at the tips, which does give the blossoms a rounded, snowball-like look. Borne in clusters, the flowers are cream-colored rather than snow white and have a strong damask rose fragrance.
This is one of the Bourbons that performs particularly well in the Southeast -though in such a climate, midsummer may bring some blackspot. A vigorous shrub, it produces long, arching canes that can be tied down along a fence or wreathed around a pillar. 'Boule de Neige' also shows to good advantage flexing its muscles freely at the back of a border or bed.

'Gipsy Boy' Roses (Introduced - 1909)
There is some argument as to whether this rose belongs among the Bourbons. Although the breeder, Peter Lambert of Germany, classed 'Gipsy Boy' as a Bourbon, he never revealed its parentage, so the truth will never be known. But two things are certain: this is one of the easiest roses to grow, and when it's in full bloom -the long, arching canes bowing under the weight of the small crimson-purple blossoms -it is spectacular.
The foliage of 'Gipsy Boy' is healthy but somewhat coarse, and the canes are prickly. This is not a rose to include in the flower bed or a formal setting, but it is an excellent choice for use as a landscape shrub or to plant along the edge of a meadow.

'Honorine de Brabant' Roses
The 3 1/2- to 4-inch soft pink blooms of 'Honorine de Brabant' rose are striped and spotted with darker shades of violet, crimson, and mauve. Its main crop of flowers appears in midsummer, but it repeats well, and fall flowers are less prone to bleaching by the hot sun. Blossoms are double, loosely cupped, and quartered, with a raspberry scent. Foliage is light green, large, and leathery. Canes are green and bear a few large prickles.
Plants are vigorous, large, and bushy. As a shrub, this rose grows nearly as broad as it is tall. It can also be trained as a climber. It is more compact and blooms more continuously than most bourbons.

'La Reine Victoria' Roses (Introduced - 1872)
The double blossoms of 'La Reine Victoria' rose are lilac-pink to deep rose; their color is deeper in bright sun. The flowers have a silky texture and a delicate appearance; they are cupped and rounded, with overlapping, shell shaped petals. Fragrance is strong and fruity. Flowers are held well above the lush soft green foliage. 'Madame Pierre Oger' is a color sport that bears creamy, flesh-colored blooms but is similar in all other respects.
The plants are slender, upright, and graceful. They make attractive specimens and can be used in beds or borders. Flowers are excellent for cutting. Both 'La Reine Victoria' and its sport are susceptible to black spot.

'Louise Odier' Roses (Introduced - 1851)
The bright rose pink flowers of 'Louise Odier' are softly shaded with a hint of lilac. They appear abundantly in midseason and repeat well into fall. Blooms are very double and cup shaped, resembling camellias; petals are quartered. Their scent is deliciously rich. Borne in clusters, the heavy flowers may weigh down the branches, creating a graceful, arching effect.
Plants are vigorous and upright with slender canes. A favorite choice in Victorian gardens, 'Louise Odier' makes an elegant shrub, and it can be trained to climb a pillar or post. This rose is hardy and disease resistant.

'Madame Isaac Pereire' Roses (Introduced - 1881)
Although the magenta flowers of 'Madame Isaac Pereire' appear throughout summer, they do not reach their peak until fall. Each double bloom is anywhere from 3 to 6 inches across, depending on climate, with quartering petals that are rolled at their edges. The fruity-scented blossoms are possibly the most fragrant of all roses; they may be dried for potpourris. The abundant foliage is large, dark green, and semi-glossy.
Plants are bushy with a somewhat spreading habit. They can be grown as freestanding shrubs or pegged; a climbing version that grows to 12 feet can be trained on a trellis or fence. Flowers are superb for cutting. Plants are vigorous, tough, and hardy, and will tolerate poor soil. A color sport of this rose, 'Madame Ernest Calvat', produces pale lavender-pink flowers.

'Madame Pierre Oger' Roses (Introduced - 1878)
This sport of 'La Reine Victoria' is identical to it in all respects except that its flowers are blush pink, developing a rosy cast as they open.

'Souvenir de la Malmaison' Roses (Introduced - 1843)
Though hardy and a good performer in the North, this rose loves a warm climate. 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' is one of the few Bourbons that turns up in old country gardens in the Southeast, and it reaches its greatest perfection in the dry warmth of the Southwest. Those who have seen it at its best speak of it as the quintessential old rose. The creamy blush pink flowers are large, flat, and quartered; the petals naturally form a cross, and the perfume they exhale is deliciously spicy. It's distinctive among the Bourbons, as it rarely grows to more than 3 ft ( 0.9m ) tall. 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' can be planted in small gardens or even raised in a container.

'Variegata di Bologna' Roses (Introduced - 1909)
No two flowers of 'Variegata di Bologna' are exactly alike in coloration: petals are white and individually striped with various shades of crimson and purple. The very double blooms are 3 to 4 inches across and globular, flattening and quartering with age. Borne in clusters of three to five, the blossoms bear a strong and long-lasting fragrance. They appear in abundance in midseason but repeat sparsely, if at all. Leaves are narrow and glossy; canes are nearly smooth.
The bushes are vigorous, upright, and slender, and are versatile in the landscape. Their long, flexible canes are easily trained to climb a fence, trellis, or pillar, or can be pegged. Heavy pruning will produce a more compact, 4- to 5-foot shrub suitable for borders. Flowers are good for cutting.

'Zephirine Drouhin' Roses (Introduced - 1868)
The semi-double cerise-pink flowers of 'Zephirine Drouhin' are 3 1/2 to 4 inches across and are loosely formed. Borne in profusion in spring, they continue to appear intermittently until fall, when the plant once again flowers heavily. Blooms are very sweetly scented. Young leaves are a coppery purple, maturing to dark green, and the canes are smooth.
'Zephirine Drouhin'  rose is a vigorous grower with an upright, semi-climbing habit. This rose can be pruned as a shrub placed in a large border or displayed as a specimen, and it makes a fine formal hedge. Or, train it as a climber on a trellis, fence, or porch, where this rose may grow as high as 20 feet. The lack of prickles makes it a good choice for planting near walkways or play areas.


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