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It is now the middle of May and the spring plants are giving way to summer plants. The tulips, crocuses, and muscari are long gone. My iris never deployed–a few sad little shoots stuck their heads up–but there was no regal purple bearded head. Unfortunately I don’t have peonies or lilacs. But who cares? It’s rose season now and the rose is truly the queen of flowers.
The end of May and the entirety of June are the apex of rose season. For people with antique English and French roses this is the only time they get to see their flowers bloom (but what magnificent fulsome flowers!). During the eighteenth century, however, European traders discovered that Chinese gardeners had entirely different rose species! Chinese roses were smaller than the European roses and less fragrant, but they possessed the ability to bloom and bloom again throughout summer, into late autumn and even early winter. Additionally their buds grew deeper in color as the flowers bloomed (unlike traditional European roses which faded and discolored immediately after opening).
My roses are all hybrid perpetuals: they bloom throughout the season and possess the best traits of European and Chinese roses. Modern Rose breeders have created all manner of new colors, shapes, and smells to delight the senses. The fashions in roses change from year to year and from decade to decade. Roses are everybody’s favorite flower—they are a big business with their own festivals and awards and inner circles. Whatever your tastes are, there was a period when rose breeders sought to appeal to them and there are breeders out there now working on even grander results.
The two photos in this article are pictures I took of my newest rose, a beautiful orange floribunda “Gingersnap” introduced in 1978. Curiously 3 of my 4 roses were introduced in 1977 & 1978 (Double Delight–1977, Gingersnap–1978, & Pristine–1978). Apparently that was the era of rose cultivation which appeals to me most (which seems ironic–since that era is in an infamous subject of laughter for fashionistas).