Centifolias - Provence Roses

Centifolia means "hundred petaled", and the centifolia rose blossoms are full, with petals tightly packed. In size, they range from little pompons 1in (2.5cm) across to big blossoms 4 in (10.2cm) in diameter - a 3 in (7.6cm) blossom is about average for centifolias. "Cabbage roses" is an old common name for these roses.

Centifolias tend to be exceptionally cold hardy and resistant to pests and diseases. As shrubs, they are usually loose and open in form, though they are often compact and may not grow beyond a height and spread of 3 ft (0.9m). They bloom just once each year, typically in early summer, filling the garden with perfume in their season.

Examination by plant cytologists in recent years of the chromosomes of R. centifolia proves beyond doubt that it is a complex hybrid and not, as previously thought, a true species. Apparently the Centifolias are made up of genes from R. gallica, R. phoenicia, R. moschata, R. canina and R. damascena. The late Dr C. V. Hurst declared that they were one of the youngest groups, developed in Holland some 300 years ago, contradicting the belief, based on references to 'hundred - petaled roses' as early as 300 BC, that they were among the oldest.

With support, centifolias roses are easily manageable and, in good weather, rewarding, with very beautiful, superbly scented, cabbage-like flowers. Their foliage is coarse and darkish green and their shoots are very thorny.

'Cabbage Rose' Roses
The very double flowers of 'Cabbage Rose' (also called R. centifolia) are clear pink and richly fragrant. This is the type of rose, with many-petaled, globular blooms, often depicted in paintings by the old European masters. The 3-inch flowers are supported by long stems and appear singly or in clusters. Though they do not repeat, they produce a stunning summer display. Foliage is gray-green and coarse, and thorns are abundant.
'Cabbage Rose' has a lax, arching habit and is moderately sized, making it useful as a garden shrub. This rose is extremely hardy.

'Centifolia Variegata' Roses
'Centifolia Variegata' is able to tolerate the heat and humidity of a southeastern summer.
Like most centifolia roses, 'Centifolia Variegata' has a rather open, rangy habit. This rose is best used as a pillar rose or trained along a horizontal fence or low wall. The large, richly fragrant blooms open creamy white with pink stripes, then fade to white with lilac stripes.

'Fantin-Latour' Roses
Although 'Fantin-Latour' has a relatively short bloom period and does not repeat, the quality of the blossoms makes up for their short season. Each 2- to 3-inch very double flower is composed of 200 petals, giving it the full appearance typical of centifolia roses. When it first opens, the pale blush pink bloom is cupped; it then flattens as it matures. The blossoms emit a delicate fragrance. Leaves are dark green, and canes are nearly smooth.
'Fantin-Latour' plants produce arching canes that usually reach 5 feet in height and a little less in spread. They perform well in a bed or border  where their late-spring flower display is breathtaking. This is a very hardy rose, but its disease resistance is only moderate.

'Petite de Hollande' Roses (Introduced - 1800)
The rose pink double blooms of 'Petite de Hollande' are borne in clusters. Flowers are 1 1/2 inches across and cupped until fully open, when their darker centers become visible. They are sweetly fragrant. In keeping with the dainty scale of the flowers, the leaves are also small; they are glossy and coarsely toothed.
Plants are moderate growers. Bushy and compact, they are ideal for smaller gardens and containers, and are also excellent for training as a standard. This rose is hardy and disease resistant.

'Rose de Meaux' Roses (Introduced - 1789)
This diminutive rose bears medium pink to light rose pompom-type double blooms in summer, with no repeat. The 1 1/2 - inch flowers have frilly petals and are very fragrant. Leaves are also small, in keeping with the overall size of the plant. Canes bear abundant straight prickles.
The plants have an upright, bushy, compact habit. They are useful for small gardens or for tucking into a small space, and are also a good choice for containers. 'Rose de Meaux' requires very good soil and can be somewhat temperamental. This rose is prone to black spot.

'Rose des Peintres' Roses (Introduced - prior to 1838)
Another shrub that takes well to being trained on a pillar or fence, 'Rose des Peintres' bears very double (200 petals), fragrant, bright pink blooms, often with button-eye centers. As is true of so many of the older roses, the blossoms of 'Rose des Peintres' have a memorable perfume. The name, which translates as "rose of the painters", refers to the fact that portraits of this flower frequently appeared in 18th-century Dutch paintings, particularly those of Jan van Huysum.
Though somewhat more sensitive to cold than 'Centifolia Variegata', this rose is also a safe bet for cold northern gardens.


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