Old European Garden Roses <ul><li>There are five classes of roses that make up what is known as the most venerable group of cultivated roses. They are Gallica, Damask, Alba, Centifolia, and Mosses, and represent the hybrid groups that prevailed in European gardens prior to the widespread trade of Rosa chinensis in the eighteenth century. They are typically very fragrant and extremely cold-hardy (USDA zones 3-5). European roses tend to do better in cooler zones and may suffer when planted in zones 7 and higher. Also, contrary to common belief, the old European garden roses are not as disease-resistant as some report. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Gallicas </li></ul><ul><li>The Gallicas are the oldest cultivated Western rose surviving the fall of the Roman Empire by becoming naturalized wherever they had been planted. Gallicas tend to make bushy upright shrubs with fine prickles and dull green, heavily veined foliage that turns dark red in the fall. Gallicas are extremely hardy and are tolerant of soil not overly fertile. Fragrance is variable. Flower color is limited to stronger pink and purple-crimson shades. When grown on their own roots, Gallicas tend to sucker free, producing once-blooming compact shrubs growing to about 4 x 4 feet. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Damask </li></ul><ul><li>Damasks are among the most ancient of garden roses. They were cultivated by the Romans and may have died out had it not been for the European monasteries that cultivated roses for medicinal purposes. Damasks are taller than the Gallicas with paler, larger foliage. Their habit tends to be a graceful, somewhat arching plant that opens up under the weight of its flowers. Damasks are known for their strong, distinctive, "old rose" fragrance and their June flowering, which produces a large quantity of blooms used in the making of potpourri. Flower color ranges from white to deep pink. Flowers are borne in clusters of 3-5 or more. Damasks are extremely winter-hardy, have little problem with disease, and require little maintenance. Most bloom once in mid-summer. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Moss </li></ul><ul><li>The first Moss roses appeared as sports or mutations of Centifolia roses during the eighteenth century. Later they were joined by sports of Damask roses, which brought with them repeat blooming characteristics and darker colors. The name of this class comes from the fragrant, piney-scented glands that cover the buds, sepals, and pedicels, giving the plant a fuzzy appearance and a characteristic that is unique among roses. Plant size and garden habit are variable among the Moss roses. Most of them are very hardy, but they do tend to be highly prone to powdery mildew when conditions are favorable for this disease. All of the Moss roses bloom heavily in early summer, with some rebloom occurring late in the season. Flower color ranges from white to very dark crimson. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Alba </li></ul><ul><li>Alba roses are known as the "White Roses of Shakespeare." Albas are noted for their soft scent, sparse prickles, and deep blue-green foliage. Albas often reach a height of 7-8 feet, making them the tallest of the old European garden roses. Contrary to what their name suggests, blooms range from white to medium-pink. All Albas are once-blooming in mid-summer. Because of their height and foliage color, they make good backdrops for other plants. Albas are some of the toughest roses, offering extreme cold-hardiness and tolerance of considerable neglect. Albas will produce some bloom in the shade. They seem to grow very well and happily along a north-facing wall under the dappled shade of tall trees. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Centifolia </li></ul><ul><li>These are the "hundred petaled" roses or "cabbage roses" made famous by Dutch still life painters and are the result of hybridizing efforts by Dutch breeders in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Centifolias are distinctive shrubs, with large, coarse leaves, numerous prickles, and long, floppy canes. All are extremely fragrant. Centifolias are also very tough, winter-hardy plants that show few problems with fungal disease. Centifolias are one-time, mid-summer bloomers noted for the fullness and size of their flowers. They range in color from dark pink to lavender. Because their large blooms often weigh down the canes, many gardeners prefer to grow Centifolias as pillar roses or to train them over low fences to keep the flowers propped up. </li></ul>
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