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
'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,
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
- '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
- '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
- '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.