Tea Roses

At the time the somewhat haphazard and largely undocumented scattering of pollen was taking place to bring forth the Bourbons, Noisettes, Portlands and early Hybrid Perpetuals, a few new and hitherto unknown hybrids were finding their way into the hands of rose breeders.

It seems that the early Tea roses as well as the Chinas arrived in ships of the East India Company, which were of course primarily concerned with the transporting of tea, but since a small part of their cargo yielded another new race of roses, it is possible that this, coupled with their unusual scent, led to the term 'Tea-scented rose' as a nickname coined perhaps by the sailors whose job it was to tend them.

They turned out to be superbly adapted to the American South. Practically immune to mildew and blackspot, the tae roses bloom from early spring through Christmas where winters are mild. The tea rose flowers tend to be large, often 4 in (10.2 cm) or more in diameter when completely opened, and full; and with their intriguingly different perfume they make unforgettable cut flowers. Tea roses typically have slender stems that bow over under the weight of the open flower. Outdoors, they make a fine contrast to the bronze-red new foliage.

'Bon Siléne' Roses (Introduced - 1837)
This early example of a tea rose makes a shrub that is often as wide as it is tall. The buds are long and pointed, unfurling into fragrant, deep pink, loosely double flowers on long stems. Few roses bloom as long or as lavishly, for this sturdy bush bears flowers profusely throughout the growing season. In addition, the foliage usually remains clean and healthy even during southern summers. Finally, this bush is a vigorous grower. Not surprisingly, 'Bon Siléne' is an old favorite of southern gardeners and is often found as huge and thriving, though abandoned, bushes marking the sites of old homesteads.

'Catherine Mermet' Roses (Introduced - 1869)
Flowers of 'Catherine Mermet' open a blush pink with lilac edges and change to soft beige as they mature. Inner petals often display yellow at the base. The double blossoms are 3 inches across and are borne singly or in small clusters on graceful stems. Their fragrance is strong and spicy. Leaves are copper colored when young, maturing to a medium green.
This rose is somewhat delicate, requiring nothing less than a warm, sunny spot and rich, well-drained soil. This rose is quite tender and is frequently grown in greenhouses. With an upright, arching habit, it is well suited for beds, borders, and specimen plantings. Flowers are excellent for cutting. Pruning should be restricted to removal of dead and weak, spindly canes. This rose is moderately disease resistant and heat tolerant.

'Duchesse de Brabant' Roses (Introduced - 1857)
This was the rose that Teddy Roosevelt liked to wear in his buttonhole. 'Duchesse de Brabant' is the essence of luxury, with its heavily perfumed, large, cupped blossoms of soft pink. It is a generous bloomer, too, flowering from spring into fall and even winter in the southern part of its range. Unlike its rangy relatives, this tea rose makes a relatively compact vase-shaped shrub that is easily accommodated in the average garden. It's easy to grow, too -a healthy, vigorous shrub that in the South is often found as a survivor in abandoned gardens.

'Isabella Sprunt' Roses (Introduced - 1855)
This rose is a "sport" of the classic tea rose 'Safrano', which means that a bud on a bush of 'Safrano' spontaneously mutated, and a branch with different characteristics emerged from the parent bush. A nurseryman observed this and took a cutting from the mutated branch. Every bush of 'Isabella Sprunt' descends from that cutting.
Aside from that, every bush of 'Isabella Sprunt' is also a handsome shrub, mounded and as broad as it is tall, with dean, healthy foliage that is plum purple when new. This rose is almost always in bloom, bearing sulfur yellow, semi double, fragrant flowers that, not surprisingly, resemble those of its parent in everything but color.

'Maman Cochet' Roses (Introduced - 1893)
The pointed, globe-shaped buds of 'Maman Cochet' open to 4-inch high-centered blossoms. Each double flower consists of 35 to 45 petals that are colored light pink with a lemon yellow base; the flower color deepens in bright sun. Blooms are very fragrant and are nicely set off against leathery deep green foliage. Canes bear few thorns.
This old garden rose is a vigorous grower with an upright, bushy habit. Its attractive foliage and steady production of flowers make it a good choice for beds and borders. This rose tolerates summer heat and humidity and is disease resistant.

'Marie van Houtte' Roses (Introduced - 1871)
The Rose Rustlers of central Texas, a colorful and enthusiastic association of antique rose collectors, used to call this cultivar the "hole rose",  because they first found it growing in a roadside depression beside an abandoned shed. It is a testimony to this rose's toughness that it coped so successfully in a climate that alternates between flood and drought, and did so in such a carefree way.
A vigorous tea rose that is inclined to sprawl, 'Marie van Houtte' bears large, round, very double, nodding, pale yellow flowers. A tinge of rose pink at the petal tips lends these flowers a special distinction.

'Monsieur Tillier' Roses (Introduced - 1891)
An outstanding and accommodating rose for southern gardens, 'Monsieur Tillier' bears a steady stream of quartered, fragrant flowers. Everyone who grows this rose describes the flower color differently, which indicates how complex and subtle is the blending of hues, and underlines the fact that rose color varies with exposure to sunlight and local climate. In general, though, the flowers of 'Monsieur Tillier' open carmine or dark pink with overtones of red, then fade to a brick red or coral pink touched with magenta. One thing is definite: the flowers are memorable.
The foliage of this rose is a pleasant olive green, and the bush itself is relatively compact. Unlike some of its expansive tea relatives, 'Monsieur Tillier' is easy to work into a garden of ordinary suburban scale.

'Mrs. B.R. Cant' Roses (Introduced - 1901)
Though it will rapidly expand to fill a large proportion of a small garden, this exceptionally vigorous shrub is worth every inch it occupies. This rose blooms virtually all season and is a prolific producer of double, silvery pink blooms; the darker pink on the undersides of the petals creates an elegant contrast. These roses are as handsome in a vase as on the bush, for the blossoms of 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' are the best cut flowers among the tea roses. The ease with which this rose may be grown is proven by the fact that it is one of the South's most common graveyard roses; that is, it is often found flourishing on untended old gravesites.

'Mrs. Dudley Cross' Roses (Introduced - 1907)
In the shape and color of its blossoms, this rose suggests a daintier version of the famous hybrid tea 'Peace'. The sturdy shrub is compact, especially for the normally expansive tea roses, and its exceptionally disease-resistant foliage is reliably handsome. 'Mrs. Dudley Cross' is also close to thornless, and its pink-tinged, pale yellow flowers are excellent for cutting and indoor display. Like its tea rose relative 'Mrs. B. R. Cant', this rose is a survivor and is frequently found growing in abandoned gardens in the South. Because cuttings of this rose root easily, it is also one of the most commonly collected and shared of the southern heirloom roses.

'Perle des Jardins' Roses (Introduced - 1874)
A century ago, this was the standard yellow rose of florists, largely because the hefty stems are unusually sturdy for those of a tea rose, and they hold the blossoms erect. Even without this feature, these flowers would still be outstanding: straw yellow, large, fragrant, and very full, with the tips of the closely packed petals rolled to points. All in all, this is a remarkable rose for arranging in a vase.
Besides providing color for the house, 'Perle des Jardins' is a superb garden shrub -compact, healthy, vigorous, and in bloom almost all season. The new growth is wine red and the mature foliage dark green.

'Safrano' Roses (Introduced - 1838)
Anyone who has seen 'Safrano' at the peak of bloom -saffron- and apricot-colored petals just starting to fade to buff yellow -will never forget the sight, for this rose is one of the genuine glories of the South. 'Safrano' is one of the toughest tea roses, an excellent choice for a landscape shrub. The foliage is disease resistant, fresh, and attractive, and the bush, though naturally expansive, can be contained to a more modest size through pruning, if space is limited.


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