Smell of roses - quasi-philosophical rambling and pondering

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SuZir, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    It has been a cold day around here, so perfect time to get immersed to gardening catalogues. My rose bed has not been a stunner in last summers so I'm going to revamp it. So I'm in business of ordering some new plants.

    Those catalogues are full of stunning pictures of bright, big roses, plants full of flowers and every rose just so big and perfect and they promise they will flower long time, often month or more. Funny thing is, that almost all of them are told to be scentless or have faint scent. Not the roses of our greatgrandmothers, not in how long they flower, not in how they loon and definitely not how they smell.

    Of course I had read about it earlier, how in cultivating roses to be bigger, more showy, flowering longer, having less thorns and holding up better against all kinds of pests, the scent has been the loser and new rose types don't have much of an odour. And of course you can definitely smell the difference to the old types (like the one in my Avatar, old, incredibly resilient rose bush, flowers less than a week, individual flowers don't look like much, but the scent is wonderful. And resilience, often that type of rose bush is the last tell-tale, long after last corner stone has been fallen and can't be noticed any more, that once here was a house and someone lived here. The picture in my Avatar is taken years ago in my garden by one of my sons, and while it gives on what a lazy weeder I am, I love the symbolism of roses and nettles.)

    But I find it interesting, that in our pursue for better (better looking, longer lasting, less thorny etc.) roses, we have lost something so integral as a scent of the rose. And I find it rather metaphorical. How often in life we are pursuing things that look good or even pursue to make things better, trying to correct the errors and don't even stop to wonder, what may be lost in that pursue and if that lost thing is in fact more important than all the good we are gaining?

    I'm in my self admitted quest for white picket fences and all things proper and right and picturesque. And I'm lucky enough to possess physical and mental health, drive and resources to make a very valid attempt to that goal. I have to wonder if my difficult child is indeed a gift from God? A gift that keeps me from being totally immersed and condemned to world of scentless roses.

    PS. My garden? I think I will plant a few more different type (and flowering different time) old rose species and wild roses on the borders of our garden and have new, showy ones in my rose bed in front of the house. That way I can maybe get it all :p
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  2. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a beautiful plan!

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  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    SuZir, that's a great observation. And yes, I've noticed that roses these days regrettably have no odor. I'd rather grow peonies, which I understand are in the rose family anyway, and they have a lovely scent.
  4. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    My grandmother used to have a beautiful rose garden (and a white picket fence) and I remember the way they smelled...wonderful! The roses my mom grows are the newer varieties, and you're right, they are basically scentless. I think your idea of having it all is a good one!
  5. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    SuZir, google hardiness zones in your area. I grew some nice roses in frigid Maine: What were the varieties grown by your ancestors? I would love to know. My garden, here in Maryland, has climbing Lavender Lassie, a German-bred repeat bloomer, VERY fragrant. When it's at its climax of blooms I feel like the love of God is raining down on me! The garden also has a very fragrant David Austen rose.
  6. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    ThreeShadows: My greatgrandmother in fact was one of those, who tried impossible. She tested all kinds of roses (mostly from England) and very few survived. While we live much norther than most of you (big part of Alaska would still be 'south' from my point of view) Gulf stream makes a big difference so our hardiness zone is not that bad. I think your hardiness zone 3 is about the same. Still, many species don't survive that either.

    Our most traditional roses tend to be cultivated Burnet roses (those are not growing wild quite this north) and for example one in my avatar is Rosa Pimpinellifolia Plena. My grandmother also had few other Burnet rose cultivates that smelled really great. One of my favourites is Poppius, that both looks and smells great. Also Rosa Splendens does well around here and has a really nice scent. Some Rosa Rugosa cultivates also do well around here same with few Rosa Gallicas. All these old ones that tend to do well here are shrub roses.

    In my garden the really old ones are Plenas. My mother in law took out the Splendens and put in some Rugosas. Those do even too well, and I'm planning to make the patch bit smaller and putting Splendens back. And I just decided that I need a Poppius to my garden too. husband's granny also says that she ones had a Gallica doing well in one part of our garden, but it got taken some in some plumbing reno well over 50 years ago. (Yes, we live in a house where father in law and mother in law lived before us and before them father in law's parents and so on. Makes making any kind of changes interesting, I can tell you...)
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015