The old garden roses are a proud tradition among rosarians, because they have a long history.

These are the roses cultivated before the creation of the first modern hybrids - the gallicas, the damasks, the albas and the centifolias and the mosses.

They have been immortalized in the classic botanical prints of Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

The most famous gallica, the Apothecary rose, had become the symbol of the guild, especially in France, where it has graced the signs of apothecary shops since medieval times.

It is an intensely fragrant, semi-double magenta rose, not far removed from its ancestor, the wild rose, and so old it was mentioned in Pliny’s writings.

This medicinal rose has a famous sport, Rosa Mundi, which dons striped petals, and a more distant, but popular cousin, Tuscany Superb.

Damasks were brought back from the Middle East during the crusades, and they are the most fragrant roses. They are very cold hardy and fiercely thorny. They bloom abundantly, but only once, and have fully double flowers, displayed in clusters of three or five. The Kazanlak Damask is cultivated as a crop to extract attar of roses. Other popular breeds worth mentioning are Ispahan, Mme. Hardy and The Four Season Rose, the only repeating Damask.

Albas are as delicate as they are exquisite: they’re frost tender and susceptible to rust and black spot. As the name implies, the Alba flowers range from pure white to blush pink and show up in generous clusters once a year. The White Rose of York is an Alba, as is Konigin von Danemark. Albas produce beautiful hips.

Next, Rosa centifolia, the cabbage rose, or the Provence Rose. The name is descriptive of its flowers, so large they bend the canes and boasting a hundred petals or more. They are cold sensitive and susceptible to mildew and black spot. Common varieties - Rose de Meaux and Fantin-Latour.

Last, the moss roses are natural mutations of Damasks, Centifolias and Gallicas.

Moss roses are repeat bloomers with scented foliage and white to deep purple flowers which are very fragrant.
The Old Pink and Old Red Mosses are well-loved varieties which have graced gardens for many years.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"; "Letters to Lelia"; "Fair"; "Door Number Eight"; "A Year and A Day"; "Möbius' Code"; "Between Mirrors"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: and, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.