Scented Roses, rose bushes, climbers, fragrant flowers

Greenwich park rose garden, Just Giving Race for Life, hari waterfield, rosa 'loving memory', cancer research


“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, scene 2


Whilst Juliet is concerned with the name of her lover, Romeo, we are concerned here with not so much with the name of the rose, as with its scent.

Scented roses are the predominant reason we grow this popular garden shrub and climber. As however beautiful the flower or foliage, without a perfume to entice us near, the rose is just another flower.

Scented roses have an ancient history, and the richest scent tends to be found amongst these older rose species and cultivars. Damask roses, the most strongly scented roses, have been grown in the China, India, Persia (Iran) and Turkey since antiquity. Damasks, Rosa damascena, are one of the two major species of rose used to make attar of roses, rose absolute or rose oil. The other species used is Rosa centifolia, the Cabbage Rose.

It takes many pounds / kilos of rose petals to make one ounce / gram of rose oil. Upwards of 1500 petals are required, ranging to many thousands of petals. Which is why it is cheaper to enjoy your rose scent on the flower itself in your garden!

Rosa spinosa Stanwell perpetual,the Scottish rose, repeat flowering, may flower at Christmas, true Old Rose character, good fragrance

The type of rose oil produced depends on the method of extraction. Attar of roses, also known as rose otto, is produced by steam distillation. The Rose Valley in Bulgaria is one of the major producers of attar of roses, possibly as much as 85%. This area south of the Balkans has been producing rose oil for centuries.

Rose absolute is produced by a method of solvent extraction. Despite the less poetical name for the process, this latter gives a rose oil which is truer to the scent of the original flower.


Rose Categories

In my ‘how to’ blog on pruning roses, I listed the different types of rose, as you need to know for pruning purposes. Here we have a slightly different list, for the various groups or categories of rose. This will help when we describe our scented roses.

Species roses
These are more or less as nature intended.

Old roses
Any rose which existed prior to the 1860s, when modern roses were introduced.
They may be sub divided into:

  • Gallica roses
  • Damask roses
  • Alba roses
  • Moss roses

Modern roses

These may be sub divided into

  • Hybrid teas
  • Floribundas
  • English roses – which are grouped into four types
    • English old rose hybrids
    • Leander group
    • English musk roses
    • Alba rose hybrids

Climbers, ramblers, patio roses and ground cover roses tend to fall into one of the above categories, for the purposes of rose species and cultivar discussion.


Scented Roses – White and Cream Flowers

rosa commonwealth glory, hybrid tea, ivory white scented flowers, deciduous shrubRosa ‘Commonwealth Glory’ – a modern hybrid tea rose, fragrant and a good rose for the cutting garden.


Rosa Nostalgia, hybrid tea, cream flowers edged with cherry red, light fragrance, repeat floweringRosa ‘Nostalgia’ – hybrid tea, cream flowers edged with cherry red, so may be referred to as a bi-coloured flower. The fragrance is light, but the flowers are so pretty and plentiful it earns a place even in a small border, repeat flowering


Scented Roses – Pink Flowers


Rosa Mary Rose, shrub, loose petalled rose pink flowers, delicious old rose, honey and almond blossom fragrance, repeat floweringRosa ‘Mary Rose’ – a modern rose, an English old rose hybrid, loose petalled rose pink flowers that have a delicious old rose, honey and almond blossom fragrance, repeat flowering.

Rosa the generous gardener, climbing rose, repeat flowering, strong fragranceRosa ‘The Generous Gardener’ – a modern rose, an English musk hybrid climber, repeat flowering, the large cup shaped flowers are strongly fragrant.


Rosa canina, dog rose, native species, scented pink flowersRosa canina – the dog rose, native species rose in the British Isles, a climber, with single sweet scented pale pink flowers and red rosehips in the autumn. Good for wildlife gardens and hedging.


Scented Roses – Red Flowers

rose 'tess of the durbervilles', red rose, deciduous shrub, repeat flowering, old rose fragranceRosa ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ – a modern rose, an English old rose hybrid, climbing rose, crimson red flowers with a rich old rose fragrance, repeat flowering from early in the season


Greenwich park rose garden - Rosa loving memoryRosa ‘Loving memory’ – a modern rose, hybrid tea, it has large flowers light fragrance on straight stems, repeat flowering from late spring to the first frost, good for the cutting garden. This was one of the rose plants I included in the Memory Garden planting design



rose 'etoile de Hollande', red rose, climbing rose, scented climberRosa ‘Etoile de Hollande’ – an early modern rose, climbing rose with deep crimson flowers and a strong fragrance, it flowers early and then again in late summer


Scented Roses – Purple Flowers


Rosa 'black baccarat', scented flower, deciduous shrubRosa ‘black Baccara’ – a modern hybrid tea rose, its deep maroon almost black buds and young flowers are dramatic, the colour lightens as petals age, richly fragrant, repeat flowering


rosa rhapsody in blue, purple scented flowers fading to mauve, shrub rose, repeat flowering, deciduous shrubRosa ‘Rhapsody in blue’ – modern shrub rose, not quite blue, the petals are purple fading to mauve, repeat flowering, sweetly scented, very pretty.


Scented Roses – Orange and Yellow Flowers


rosa 'wonderful you' hybrid tea rose, rose bud, festival of roses pavilion, rhs hampton court flower show 2016, light fragranceRosa ‘Wonderful You’ – modern rose, hybrid tea, with burnt orange classically shaped flowers and bronze foliage, lightly fragrant


Rosa euphoria - ground cover rose, tangerine and yellow petals, light fragranceRosa ‘Euphoria’ – a modern ground cover rose, with bi-coloured tangerine and yellow petals, it has a light fragrance


The scented roses suggested above should give you some design inspiration for planting roses in your own garden. I have tried to give a selection of the different types, but as there are so many roses, we’ll have to revisit this deciduous shrub another time.

Now all we really need is scratch and sniff internet…


Related Gardening blogs you may enjoy

Patron Saints, Red Rose – St George
When to Prune Roses
Rose gardens – the scent of paradise
Hospice Memory Garden – Planting the Design

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