Thursday, January 14, 2010

The two camps begin to emerge

As roses continued to be crossed, there emerged a class of roses known as Hybrid Perpetuals (like John Hopper to the right). They are a result of taking the first generation spring flowering offspring of the old European roses crossed with China roses, and then crossing them with the Portland Roses (also known as Damask Perpetuals).

The intent was to get the repeat blooming and hardy re-blooming qualities of the Damask Perpetuals to combine with the ranges of color and the constant flowering qualities found in the Chinas. What emerged were typically roses with huge cabbagey blossoms perched atop what were then long stems.

As with anything new these became the rage and within a short time there were thousands of Hybrid Perpetuals in commerce. They were also developed simultaneously with the rise of the popularity of rose shows. In 1876 the Rev Dean Hole began the Royal National Rose Society in England and promoted rose shows as a way of drawing in new members and educating the public about roses.

As the popularity of roses shows increased the breeding of Hybrid Perpetuals became refined to achieve roses whose value lay more in their ability to produce great cut flowers for Exhibition than to be a great garden plant. Long stem, length of time the cut flower was held on the stem and form were valued over ease of growth.  (Sound familiar!)

The Victorian era was a time of great wealth, large greenhouses on country estates and huge staffs of gardeners both in the U.S. and abroad. This meant time and money were of no object in the pursuit of “perfection”. Roses were now also becoming grown solely for the beauty of the flower.  (Mons. Boncenne is the red rose to the left)

This meant some rose growers grew roses for their garden value and some for their cut flower/exhibition value. Both hard-working dedicated groups but the result was two different types of roses began to emerge based on what they used for. Cut flower/exhibition Roses on the one hand and Garden Roses on the other.

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