Creating a garden filled with roses

Thursday March 28 2013

By IMMACULATE WAIRIMU [email protected]

The rose is also known as, “the queen of flowers” and rose water provides one of the most valuable elements of fine perfume.

Their fragrance was valued by ancient Romans and used to scent rooms and as perfume after bathing. 

Cleopatra supposedly filled a room over a foot deep with rose petals while wooing Mark Anthony. The two main roses used in this era were the damask and gallica types.

Prior to the Victorian era of the late 1800s, fragrance in flowers was used for medicinal purposes or to hide odours.

This period saw the use of flowers in gardens for their pleasing fragrance. Today, creating a rose flower garden is a lesson in patience that is ultimately rewarding.

All roses are beautiful, but to create a fragrant garden, determine the type to use, as contrary to popular belief, not all roses have a distinct fragrance.

Some roses lack any kind of fragrance, and the ones that are fragrant offer a wide variety of scents. Most of them start out with something of a rosy scent, but you might be surprised at the additional aromas that exist in the rose world.

You also have to determine where you want them to grow, as some are compact and will fit into a narrow bed, while others are giant climbers and may grow into other plants and choke them.

Rose perfumes, which were popular among the Romans and the Greeks, were extracted from the plants at night as the fragrance is strongest before sunrise.

The two main species of roses used for perfume are the Rosa centifolia, found mostly in the South of France, and the Rosa damascene (damask rose) located primarily in Arab countries.

The damask rose is most widely grown for perfumery. The other seven main rose scents are nasturtium, orris (similar to violets), violets, apple, clove, and lemon. 

There are 26 other diverse but less common scents in roses that include honeysuckle, moss, hyacinth, honey, wine, marigold, peppers, parsley, and fruits such as raspberry. 

Generally, roses with the best scents have darker colours and thicker, and more abundant petals. Red and pink roses often smell like what is commonly known as the “rose scent”. 

White and yellows often smell of violets, nasturtium, and lemon, while orange roses often smell of fruits, violets, nasturtium, and clove.

Many clove scent roses smell sweet and provide a refreshing feel that is somewhat spicy. Spices like clove and cinnamon offer an instantly homey scent and feel.

Clove evaporates 36 times more slowly than citrus, so once you pick up a citrus scent it can disappear with the clove scent appearing later.

A wonderful spicy scent and apricot yellow blooms is the Honey Perfume rose. Growing about three to four feet high and two to three feet wide, Honey Perfume makes a great specimen or low hedge. It also exhibits good rust and mildew resistance.

Fragrant Cloud has a wonderful spicy aroma. It grows up to five feet tall, is right at home as a hedge or in the back of a border or bed.

Other spicy bloomers include Scent from Above, America, Sweet Intoxication, Westerland, Strike it Rich, and Lilian Austin.

The Julia Child rose has golden four-inch blooms and quaint liqourice scent. It is also remarkably heat-tolerant and disease-resistant, a plus in any garden.

More licorice-scented roses include Summer Nights, Tahitian Sunset, Monkey Business, and Butter Cream.

Double Delight is a hybrid tea rose with a long season of bloom and a sweet, spicy scent. It has rich, creamy white to pale pink centre with deep, ruby edging.

It is bushy and grows to about four to five feet with a two to three foot spread. Double Delight shows good disease resistance, although less so in wet weather.

If your style is influenced by antique elements, go for the Melody Parfumee, a gorgeous dark lavender rose growing up to five feet tall and four feet wide.

It has ruffly flowers in clusters. More classic rose scent would be from Gertrude Jekyll, The Countryman, Falstaff, Harlow Carr, and William Shakespeare.

Memorial Day is arguably the front-runner for fragrance and another of the popular hybrid teas.

“Experts say one bloom perfumes almost an entire room.” It is 5 inch with clear pink blossoms and a lavender glow about them.

The fragrance may be described as similar to the old-fashioned damask roses. Cutting stems are nice and long and the bushes are an especially good choice for hot climates.

Fruity rose scents range from apple to citrus. They seem very fresh and clean and mix well with other scented flowers.

Midas Touch, a strong yellow hybrid tea rose with 3- to 4-inch blooms is a smaller rose, growing only 3 feet tall and wide, so it is perfect for the front or middle parts of your flowerbeds.

Other fruity roses include Pink Promise, Olympiad, Enchanted Evening, and Wild Blue Yonder.

Elle has a spicy, citrusy scent, is also a hybrid tea rose and displays above average disease resistance, especially to black spot and mildew.

The blossoms are a soft, shell pink set off by glossy, dark green foliage. Moon Dance is a stunner by virtue of its colour and has a raspberry scent.

White blooms with creamy centres appear, reaching heights up to 5 feet and widths up to 4 feet. More raspberry-scented roses include Alnwick and Madame Isaac Pereire.

Light and sweet may sometimes be what you want as a scent. Classic, light and sweet, nothing overpowering or exotic.

Geoff Hamilton is a great option with its baby-pink petals and classic rose form. It is disease-resistant and grows to 6 feet tall, so be sure to give it room in the back of your border.

If you would rather have lightly scented roses, these are Hot Cocoa, Hot Tamale, Agatha Christie, and Angela Rippon.