“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!
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.
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.
These are more or less as nature intended.
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
These may be sub divided into
- Hybrid teas
- 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 ‘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
Scented Roses – Red Flowers
Rosa ‘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
Scented Roses – Purple Flowers
Scented Roses – Orange and Yellow Flowers
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…