Towards the end of the eighteenth century a rose of much significance appeared in France. Its origins were obscure, as is so often the case, but its habit of flowering almost continuously throughout the season won it instant favor. It arrived there by way of England with the name R. portlandica but later became known as 'Duchess of Portland', after the 3rd Duchess of Portland, who is reputed to have brought it to England from Italy. It is said to have originated from a cross between a Damask x Gallica seedling and an unknown China rose, probably 'Slater's Crimson', a mating which is thought to have established, at least in part, the invaluable remontancy habit of many of our present-day roses.
This is a small class of roses that probably never included more than 100 cultivars, even in its 19-th century heyday. Currently, there are fewer than a dozen Portland roses still available. The Portland roses were greatly admired in the early 19th century because they are not only hardy but also reblooming. After producing a heavy crop of flowers in early summer, they flower again occasionally throughout the summer and into the fall.
Though the Portland rose blossoms are large - 3-4 in (7.6 - 10.2 cm) in diameter - and usually very fragrant, for the most part this class has been replaced by showier, freer-flowing roses. Well adapted to the Northeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountain West, and milder regions of Canada, these roses suffer where summers are hot and humid.
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