Bourbons originated in 1817 in the Indian Ocean on the Ile de Bourbon where a natural cross between an 'Old Blush' and an 'Autumn Damask' occurred. Loved during the 19th century, they are strong, vigorous shrubs with cupped, quartered flowers that repeat and carry a sweet fragrance. Their thornless canes grow from 2' to 15' tall and are trained easily on tripods and pillars.
European traders during the 1700s and 1800s returned home with R. chinensis (Old Blush), that was later cultivated, resulting in the creation of many hybrids that we have today. Their unique, ever-blooming characteristic was appealing and, therefore, they were crossed with the hardy old European roses, which resulted in a new rose breeding process. Their spicy, fragrant flowers are small but sweet. They range from small, twiggy bushes to very large, upright plants. In the South, they grow 2' to 10' tall.
These roses date back more than 3,000 years. Their crimson, lavender, purple, and pink blooms are delicately fragrant and are ideal for cutting. They tolerate poor soil and sucker on their own roots. 'Rosa gallica officinalis' has been grown since the 13th century for its perfumed petals and medicinal use.
In the early 20th century, Joseph Hardy Pemberton, an English minister, crossed a 'Rosa moschata' hybrid with hybrid teas and polyanthas. Today, we have a wonderful collection of hybrid musks that show off their clusters of flowers even in shade. They are large shrubs that can be used as climbers in the South. They are quite delightful to care for in our gardens.
These roses originally came from a cross between the hybrid 'Perpetual' and a tea. There is debate over which was the first hybrid tea, but the honor has fallen to 'La France' from 1876. When 'Soleil d'Or' was introduced, it added new colors to the group with a yellow-orange hue.
John Champney of Charleston, South Carolina, crossed a China with 'R. moschata', resulting in 'Champney's Pink Cluster'. The seed was sent to Louis-Phillipe in France who later introduced "Blush Noisette" in 1817. They are vigorous, bushy climbers growing up to 20' in the South.
The 1870s French breeder, Jean-Baptiste Guillot, created the first polyantha by crossing 'R. multiflora' and a dwarf China rose. These are low growing roses that have clusters of repeating blooms. Polyantha means "many-flowered."
These hardy roses, also known as the 'Beach Rose', can be seen growing along roads and in sand dunes with high winds and salt spray. They were introduced to the West from Japan and Western Asia around 1796 and brought to America in the 19th century. Rugosas are low-maintenance, disease-free, and bear fragrant, long-lasting blooms. Their hips add a distinct beauty to the garden and are a good source of vitamin C. The foliage has a crinkled look that will show off colorful fall colors.
Read more about rose history and varieties: Old Rose History and Synopsis