Old roses for sale

Rose Petals Nursery

Rose Petals Nursery is located in a quiet park like setting in North Central Florida, along a tree canopy designated scenic road. Display Gardens featuring many varieties of Heritage Roses including Old Garden Roses, Antique Roses, Species Roses,Found Roses and rare roses all surrounding our indoor venue.

Near the Display Gardens the sales area is located where two sizes of own root rose plants are organized in a way that makes shopping easy. To aid visitors in the Sales Area, signs provide details and a photograph of each variety of the own root roses offered for sale. In addition to listing names and years of introduction, the signs also provide information about the approximate mature size of the plants, bloom characteristics, fragrances and/or rose class.

RPN has two plant sizes available – a one gallon size which is the shippable product and a larger size for PICK UP ONLY.

Mail-order year around is available for those customers who wish to order online. Please check the Event Calendar. The user-friendly website has convenient features such as:

  • Estimated Shipping Options and Costs before your order is placed;
  • Current listing of roses available;
  • Wish List – a notification will be sent to you for all varieties you have added;
  • Link to Help me Find/Roses – providing you with many more details and photos;
  • Our Event Calendar – what is going on at Rose Petals Nursery;
  • Favorites – a place just for you to store your favorites varieties.

Scheduled Open Garden Days announced on the Front Page of our website, Event Calendar and on Facebook. For all other days you may call or email to schedule a visit to RPN. Scheduled appointments allows more time for visitors to visualize the many varieties and learn about the roses they may not have seen at other nurseries or garden centers. A walk-through history if you will!

Garden Clubs, groups and associations as well as bus tours are welcome to use the Gardens and/or the Indoor Venue for meetings and luncheons. We offer workshops and rose related presentations tailored to the interest of the group.

Looking for that unique gift for some special occasion – birthdays, anniversaries or just to say thinking of you? How about sending them living “antiques” to provide color in their gardens and memories for years? At your request a handwritten card with your sentiments may be included with the roses you send.

Rose Petals Nursery is proud to offer 10% discount on rose purchases to Active Duty and Retired Members of the Military.

In-Stock Roses

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Please take some time to browse through the extensive list of our Antique, Heritage and Old Garden Roses we have growing in our nursery. New roses will be added to our list as they become available. Should there be a rose you do not see on our list, please contact us to see if we have it in stock and have yet to add it to our website listings. Custom rooting is an option if you so desire. In Stock Roses

Rose Catalog

Austin Web Design & Internet Marketing Blog

Bob Atchison’s guide to find the rare and unique

There are two times of the year to buy roses online, Fall and late Winter-Spring. This obviously depends on your region and when you have had your last frost of it’s the later. Planting in Fall is the best, this enables your plants to get an early start on growing roots and getting settled in your garden. The main foe of the new rose in transit is heat – the later and warmer it is the more danger your plants are in. Sitting in a non-air conditioned truck can fry them quickly. All sellers watch carefully to make sure they don’t ship roses when there is a risk of this happening. All online rose sellers sell by region, by climate zone. In Austin we are zone 9 or 10. It has changed over the years due to climate change – it’s definitely hotter here in Austin. I also think we are experiencing more extremes in climate here.

I will start writing about David Austin Roses, since they are the now the 800lb gorilla in the room when it comes to buying antique and old fashioned looking roses. They keep getting bigger and bigger.

The first David Austin rose I bought was the climber Constance Spry, a one time bloomer with big fragrant flowers. I actually bought it from Roses of Yesterday and Today, a rose grower that is pretty much out of business today. in Texas I used to buy David Austin Roses from nurseries around Austin. It was here that I first found one of my favorites, “The Dark Lady”. It’s About Thyme was the nursery I bought a couple of Dark Ladies from. They recommended it, aid that it did well in our heat, was a repeat bloomer, they also said that some Austin gardeners though they could not grow David Austin roses here and that this plant would prove that wrong. I bought a couple of other David Austin Roses then, too and both of them did very well for me. The next year I went back to It’s About Thyme to buy more Dark Ladies and they told me they could not get anymore David Austin roses for retail sales and that I would have to buy them directly from David Austin. I checked all over Austin and the surrounding area and this proved to be true, no one carried David Austin roses for retail sales. I called David Austin Roses in Tyler, Texas asking about where I could buy them in a retail nursery and there were none anywhere nearby. I am not sure why this was. Someone told me that some growers grow David Austin roses on some licensing arrangements, indeed some of the other sources are listed here. It looks like these are older varieties.

So, I decided to start buying roses from David Austin online and have been doing this online for six years. Their USA operations are outside of Dallas and I am told their roses are grown in Texas, but the last time I called and asked it seemed like this might have changed, I could get a direct answer. Being grown in Texas would be a huge plus for Rose gardeners in Texas, since that would mean they were ‘born and raised’ here. I have been told in the past that many of the roses sold in the USA came from California. Maybe someone knows the answer to where David Austin roses come from.

Over the last few years I have brought around 50 or so roses from them online. I have talked with them on the phone many times and they have always been very friendly and helpful. I always end of asking them to recommend roses for Austin, but I sense a reluctance to commit to specific roses. I am sure they get asked similar questions from people all over the USA all the time and they have to be careful. These days online reviewers can be brutal if you make a mistake. Th people at David Austin must have stressful jobs, especially when roses are shipping. I was pleasantly surprised to get fast call back on messages left on their answering system or email I had sent.

They ship both bare root and plants in 2 quart containers. They are $28-30 per plant and they often give discounts for multiple roses bought of a similar type. I use this feature and get three or more of a type at the same time. I like to plant them in clumps. You have to check to see if they are on their own roots or grafted on root stock. I prefer roses grown on their own roots, if it’s available. I think they are healthier and live long on their own roots. For a grower the decision to propagate on their own roots are not has to do with how difficult is is to reproduce arose fast and in quantity. One of my favorite roses, the Bourbon rose Madame Isaac Pereire, is only offered as a grafted plant. I have planted three of the same roses within a few feet or each other. One of these sister roses gets eaten alive by bugs while the other two are ignored by them. I have no explanation for why this happens. It usually happens on fresh new leafy growth or new buds. My problems are with lace wings, thrips and aphids. I don’t like to use soil systemics that might harm the soil or effect bees, so I spray as lightly as I can to control them. I use a spray of water to blast off aphids, but have too be very careful that I don’t damage new growth. Water is such a temporary fix – they seem to be right back a day later.

David Austin guarantees their roses. I have had to replace a couple. One that I purchased as the the red rose, The Dark Lady, got its first blooms and they were shell pink – plus the rose looked like a climber, you can see my mystery rose below. It sure grew well in my garden, whatever it was. It was too late to get a replacement that year, so they gave me a credit for the next year. I also had a rose die within a month of planting it, I don’t know why. David Austin took care of that one too. Gardeners in Austin and central Texas report different experiences with David Austin roses and I think it’s best to search for local review on specific roses they carry for advice. The best advice will come from Rose nuts – like me.

Most people buy David Austin roses because they are looking for the old English looking plants that have made them famous. The company was started in the UK and David Austin is one of the world’s top experts in Roses, both modern and old. David Austin was a real person and he has written many books. Their website is by far the best online site for buying roses. It is beautiful, big and airy and there are lots of great pictures of the roses they offer for sale. Most plants have multiple views of their roses, with close-ups of blooms and foliage, and more distant shots showing full-plant views. Climbers are often shown on walls or supports. There are still too few pictures and some roses only have one of two images. The old roses have the biggest problem with this. Besides adding more pictures I would also like to see pictures with a rose bloom in the palm of the hand. If this was done one could easily understand bloom size visually. Some of their plants have smaller rosette-size blooms and this not apparent in the close-up pictures which show blooms all the same size. Rose size is clearly stated in their plant descriptions, so it’s there but you have to look.

David Austin’s plant listings have plenty of information about each one of them, including the parents of that rose. I don’t like the descriptions on the right side because you have to click around to read the different categories of information. You can’t see all the information at the same time. There isn’t that much of it, so making it simpler to use would be helpful.

One of the things that people seem to complain about is fragrance. David Austin roses have ever rose listed with the type of fragrance it has. Some are listed as very fragrant and fragrant. David Austin will also often describe the type of scent it is, damask, old rose, tea rose – once you have smelled a rose with these types of scents you will never forget them. They say that an acute sense of is the thing that mammals had that helped us survive the dinosaurs. We could find our way around in the dark and find food by using our noses like moles do today. I think our sense of smell is also genetic and various scents are recorded by our brains differently. I have met people who can’t stand the smell of some roses – or who cannot detect scents that I find very strong. I have been in wine tastings where people describe all kinds of flavors they can smell in the wine, when I can’t smell anything. Is that just training? Do you detect more flavors they more you learn about wines? For me I know I can remember the scent of every rose that I have discovered that had a strong fragrance. They seem to be burned into some part of my brain.

Some roses have longer lasting scents than others, some have stronger perfume in the mornings. Here in Austin the heat can strip a delicate bloom, wilt it and eliminate the scent in 20 minutes of sun. I have had entire bushes stripped of all buds and blooms in half a day of June sun. I think the thickness of the petals has something to do with it. Bourbon roses do the best of any roses in Austin for fragrance. Madame Isaac Pereire, my favorite, magenta-pink rose, with huge blooms, is s bourbon that stands up in the heat. Madame Isaac is said to have the strongest old-rose scent or anything you can get today. It’s pink sport, Madame Ernest Calvat, also has a strong long-lasting perfume. Another Bourbon winner is Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison, which has a spicy-old rose scent from huge white quartered cabbagey blooms – and it thrives in Austin. I also like Reine Victoria (also called the Shell Rose) which has a fresh old rose scent that is very sweet, but this rose is harder to grow. It can suffer from bugs and blackspot.

One rose I have purchased from Antique Rose Emporium, Belinda’s Dream is listed as very fragrant. I have purchased 5 of this rose so far and none of them had the slightest fragrance. I have read online that others have reported this, too. David Austin Roses says that The Dark Lady has a light scent and I find it very strong in my garden. I also have the red rose Munstead Wood, which David Austin says has a very strong fragrance. I think The Dark Lady is stronger

David Austin roses are $28.50 and $29.50 each and Antique Rose Emporium sells them for $19.95 per plant. They sell very different types of plants. You won’t find hardly any of the same roses on both websites, except for a few old roses and a couple of old David Austin roses, like Graham Thomas, a yellow rose that Antique Rose Emporium offers. I had one of these in my garden here in Austin and it did very well for 6-7 years then it died. I find roses from Antique Rose Emporium and David Austin to be the same sizes and they grow about the same.

Antique Rose Emporium is based in Brenham, Texas, about two hours from Austin. They have been in business for many years and have been the leaders in promoting antique roses for Texas and the south. Around 20 years ago they started propagating new varieties especially grown and developed for our conditions. In the last 20 years I have bought 50 or more roses from them, both through online sales and local nurseries like Barton Springs. I have never had any problems with any of them. They are grown in Texas on their own roots, which means they are ‘Texas Natives’. They have many old roses that can’t be found anywhere else. The website has a useful feature where you can sort roses looking only for those that are ‘in stock’, a very useful feature. I find it very frustrating to browse for roses on other website and find that none of the ones I want are available. Also, their website allows you to see everything you want on one page, rather than having to load page after page with ten roses on a page. The main problem with Antique Rose Emporium is that the pictures are much too small and the entire website is old and outdated, especially when compared with the David Austin website. Of course Antique Rose Emporium is locally owned and totally self-funded by the founder. How they survive is anyone’s guess. I used to know Carol Martini of the Martini family winery and my company used to build and operate their website. Carol used to tell me that her family were just ‘farmers’, growers of grapes totally at the mercy of God, the climate and the economy. All of her family, even the wine-master, got their hands dirty, growing and harvesting the grapes. It’s true that the business of growing and selling roses is basically the same, growing them, harvesting them and shipping product. You never can be sure what the public will be buying from year to year and what your sales volume will be. It’s a tough business and I respect companies like Antique Rose Emporium and I hope they succeed and do well. If anything ever happened to them we would probably loose access to dozens of unique roses that you can only get from them. Unlike David Austin Roses who has millions in backing from a global operation, Antique Rose Emporium runs its business year-to-year and the owner writes all the checks.

Above is another view of my garden in San Francisco.

Before the days of the internet and online sales I used to order my roses from printed catalogs and pick them them up in nurseries. Everybody used to buy Jackson Perkins roses. They would arrive in local nurseries and be off-loaded from huge trucks in thousands of boxes with pretty pictures with names like Mister Lincoln and Peace. Everybody grew them. They would sell out in a few weeks, especially the new varieties. You can still buy these roses, like Iceberg, from Jackson Perkins. My sister-in-law, Kathy gave me a Cream Veranda rose from them this year. I was amazed at how beautiful and healthy it was. The shape of the roses was very cabbagey and old-fashioned in form. It looks like it is going to do very well in my garden. When Kathy told me about the rose and that it was on it’s way to Austin, I went to the Jackson and Perkins website to find out more about it. I was surprised to see so many of the roses I loved in my baby days as a rosarian could still be purchased 30 year later, it brought back a lot of memories to see Sun Flare, Angel Face, French Lace and lots of other roses I used to grow when I lived in San Francisco and spend my weekends at the Sloat Garden Center.

I think I first heard about antique roses on the PBS show, The Victory Garden in the late ’70’s or early 80’s. I asked the staff at Sloat about them and they told me about Roses of Yesterday and Today, a grower and retailer of old and antique roses about three hours south of San Francisco. I started buying from them and eventually my Jackson and Perkins rose garden was transformed into an old rose one. After two generations of grower-owners of the business died they went out of business in the mid-nineties. I have a copy of their last 1993 catalog. It had a color cover, but was totally black and white on the inside. Can you imagine selling roses in a black and white catalog? I remember that they used to charge for the catalog and they charged $19.00 per rose back then. Where they found all the old varieties they offered in their catalog we’ll never know. They were the only source for roses like the old Damask, York and Lancaster, Common Moss, and species musk roses. I know some of the roses people bought from them 40 years ago are still alive. They had a big fan base and their annual sales events would attract thousands of people to their nursery in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I had more than 100 varieties of old roses in my garden in San Francisco, you can see it on the left, it really was a jungle of roses. It was south-facing on the side of a hill. In season I was able to harvest four grocery bags of flowers and petals a week and made my own potpourri. The Bay Area has an ideal climate for roses; but it came with the curse of the disease rust and daily fogs that drifted in from the Pacific which caused havoc, balling up big cabbagey roses like Souvenir. The fog and dampness was a perfect environment for both rust and mildew.

I also used to buy roses from High Country Roses for my parents cabin in the Washington Cascades. They have lots of species roses that you can’t find anywhere else. They also carry most of the old roses I like. They are $14.95 and $16.95 and are grown on their own roots. I wish I had lots of space so I could grow some of these species roses like Rosa Eglantera.

If you have any comments please post them below.

Also below is a picture of all of the antique roses you can buy from David Austin Roses.

Bob Atchison

Heirloom or Old Garden Roses

  • By Sue Martin
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  • April 2016-Vol.2 No.4
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When I first started to read about heirloom or “Old Garden Roses,” I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone thought they needed to improve such a beautiful plant. The heirlooms are described as hardy, disease-resistant, carefree, prolific shrubs that don’t require much tending. But the show-stopper is their wondrous fragrance, mentioned over and over again. They also offer a wide variety of forms ranging from shrubs to climbers to tall, arching plants up to 20 feet in height.

The Old Garden Rose is defined as any rose that existed before 1867. After that, the “modern” rose came into existence when the first hybrid tea rose — “La France” — was discovered growing in a garden. Today, about 80% of all roses grown are of the modern classes of this rose. Just to put these rose groups in context, keep in mind that roses are divided into three main groups: Species (wild) and their hybrids, Old Garden Roses and Modern Roses. The purpose of this article is to familiarize readers with the different classes of Old Garden Roses so that you may be inspired to experiment in your garden.

So why did the modern hybrids largely usurp the position of heirloom roses in the landscape? Many, but not all, of the Old Garden Roses offer a single bloom period whereas modern roses, i.e. hybrid teas and floribundas, are repeat bloomers. The modern rose is also a prolific bloomer and offers lots of different colors and varieties. The hybrid tea is prized for the perfection of its bloom. They have been bred for long stems, which are especially suitable for cut flowers. Modern rose bushes offer a compact shape that is more labor intensive to maintain, but also better suited to smaller spaces or for large displays of numerous bushes.

But, if you love history, it is hard to resist an Old Garden Rose. Who wouldn’t want to grow a Gallica rose that dates from the time of the Greeks and Romans? Or a type of Noisette that was grown by Thomas Jefferson? Or a favorite Moss rose from the gardens of the Victorian era? It’s fun to think that the Centifolia or cabbage rose you enjoy was also prized by Marie Antoinette.

The care of heirloom roses does not differ from the care of modern roses, except that there may be less pruning required for some types of heirlooms and less need for chemical sprays. For a general discussion of roses and their care, please see an article written by Cleve Campbell, “Our National Flower — the Rose,” that appeared in the June 2015 issue of The Garden Shed. In the March 2016 issue, Pat Chadwick wrote an article, “The Ornamental Garden in March,” in which she discusses how to plant bare root roses.

Old Garden Roses

This first group of Old Garden Roses contains five individual classes and all bloom only one time a year: Gallica, Alba, Damask, Centifolia, and Moss.

Gallicas are the oldest roses, grown by the Greeks and Romans and later bred by the Dutch and French. They have a great color range that includes striped blooms, and some are intensely fragrant. They are compact in size but they sucker profusely and spread by underground runners, which means they can fill in an area quickly. Their foliage is dark green and roughly textured.

GALLICA ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Extension

Albas date from before 100 A.D. They are richly perfumed and can thrive under difficult conditions, even partial shade. They have a tall, slender upright growth habit with blooms of blush pink or white, and grey-green foliage. They are also disease-resistant.

ALBA ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Exension

Damasks are thousands of years old and it’s said they were brought to Europe from the Middle East by the Crusaders. Others say the Romans brought them to England, and yet a third view is that Henry VIII’s physician gave him a Damask rose as a present, around 1540. They are very thorny but so fragrant that they are used for making perfumes. Their blooms are white, pink or red and the bush has an arching habitat of up to 7 feet tall.

DAMASK ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Extension

Centifolia means “hundred petals” and is commonly referred to as a “cabbage rose” because of the size and shape of its blooms. Plants vary in size from 1 foot to 20 feet. They are very fragrant, very winter hardy, but not as disease-resistant as others. They do best in full sun. Colors range from white to deep purple.

CENTIFOLIA ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Extension

The Moss rose is the rose of Victorian England. They have developed a moss-like growth on the sepals and calyx that smells like pine and is the result of a “sport” — a naturally occurring genetic mutation. The moss roses are very disease-resistant and tolerant of neglect; some are even repeat bloomers.

MOSS ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Extension

The second group of heirlooms contains six classes and all are repeat bloomers: Chinas, Bourbons, Hybrid Perpetuals, Noisettes, Portlands and Teas.


The original roses from this class were brought from China to Europe, where they were widely bred with other classes. The results were repeat-blooming plants that changed the Western world of roses. They are somewhat tender and may need protection in cold climates. They are fragrant and disease-resistant. The flowers are smaller and come in shades of pink, copper and red and have a sweet, fruity fragrance. The plant form ranges from dwarf bushes to vigorous climbers.

CHINA ROSE Photo: Amercian Rose Society


Named for the European royal house of French origin, these roses tend to have large flowers and are richly scented with rose perfume. The flowers are often three to a cluster. Growth habit is rather leggy though some may have a chunky shrub form.

BOURBON ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Extension


Portlands were popular in the mid-1800s. They have a mixed heritage of China, Damask and Gallica roses. The flowers are multi-petaled, very fragrant, and usually pink with light green foliage. The shrub is small in size, usually less than 12 inches, and their blooms are petite, making them ideal for small gardens or containers.

PORTLAND ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Extension

Hybrid Perpetuals

This rose is the pre-20th-century equivalent of the hybrid tea. They have large, double flowers that come in pink, purple, red and sometimes white. They have a strong delicious. fragrance and a stately, upright arching growth.

HYBRID PERPETUAL ROSE Photo: University of Illinois Extension


Noisettes originated in Charleston, South Carolina, at the plantation of John Champney and are the first roses bred in America prior to the hybrid tea. They are also important for introducing the colors of orange and yellow. Their ancestry includes the China rose. They are tall. bushy plants best treated as climbers with support. They are tolerant of clay soils, are fragrant, and somewhat tender to Zone 7.

NOISETTE ROSE Photo: University of Illionois Extension


These roses are similar in history and cultivation to the Chinas. They are a cross between a Rosa chinensis and Rosa gigantea. Roses in this class tend to form chunky, V-shaped shrubs and are well covered with foliage and flowers, most of which are pastel or some shade of red. Tea roses often have only five petals. This rose is uniquely scented with a perfume that reminds some people of tea. If pruned severely, the plant may sulk for a season and produce only a few blooms. This rose will grow slowly at first, but after two or three years, it will increase in size. It’s disease-resistant but tender to Zone 8.

TEA ROSE Photo: American Rose Society


Once you decide to incorporate a bit of history and fragrance into your garden by planting an heirloom rose, where do you start? I would suggest visiting one of the specialty gardens in our area to see and smell these roses in a natural setting. Many of these gardens also sell roses that they propagate.

We are incredibly fortunate to have in our backyard the Léonie Bell Rose Garden at Monticello. The Bell Garden was designed to tell the story of rose breeding and development that ensued from the first American rose hybrid, the Noisette. The garden was made possible by an endowment from Louis Bell in honor of his wife, Léonie Bell, a noted botanical illustrator who became the center of the American rose rustling movement from the late 1960s through the 1980s. (Rose rustlers search old cemeteries, abandoned gardens and other “wild” areas in search of Old Garden Roses, from which they can take a slip and then restore a piece of history in their own gardens.) The garden is reflective of 18th- and 19th-century Rosary Gardens which were planted generally in a circular design. The Bell Garden, however, is designed in an octagonal shape in homage to one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite architectural forms. In addition to the historical ‘Champneys Pink Cluster’ and ‘Blush Noisette’, the garden includes many one-of-a-kind selections with fascinating histories, including the ‘Aunt Louisa Rose’ from the garden of President Garfield’s aunt and ‘Faded Pink Monthly,’ rooted from a slip by a slave before the Civil War. According to Lily Fox-Brugière, who is Garden and Outreach Coordinator with the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, Thomas Jefferson also grew roses at Monticello, as evidenced by an order for ten roses from William Prince Nursery in 1791. The order included a China rose, a Moss rose and a Scotch Briar rose. When I asked Lily to recommend some favorite heirlooms, she proposed ‘Old Blush China,’ ‘Scotch Briar’ and ‘Cecile Brunner.’ I could tell it was hard to narrow down the choices! Rose slips are available for purchase at the Monticello Gift Shop at the Visitors Center as well as at Tufton Farms. Monticello will also host the Wine and Roses Open House on May 28. Visit the Leonie Bell Garden website for more information.

A second nearby garden that features Old Garden Roses is the Gravegarden at Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg. The peak of bloom is in May, but visitors to the Confederate Section of the cemetery will find continuous scattered bloom throughout the summer until late fall frosts. The Antique Rose collection was planted in 1986 along the 500-foot remains of the old brick wall from the 1860s. The 60 varieties chosen are representative of rose history from before 1581 through the 19th century, and include the full range of classes and colors exhibited by these ancestors of modern-day roses. The plants were gathered from all over the United States and Canada, as well as from local gardens. Karen Bracco, Public Relations and Visitor Service Manager at the garden, describes the appeal of the heirlooms as “not being as fussy as the moderns and not requiring as much fussing.” Please see the Gravegarden website for a chronological listing of their roses as well as upcoming events, including the Mother’s Day Festival. Root slips are also available for purchase.

A third garden in our area is part of the Ben Lomond Historic Site in Manassas. The rose garden behind the house contains one of the largest collections of Old Garden Roses in the DC Metro area, including 200 bushes of 160 antique cultivars planted in a geometric design. This garden is significantly larger than and different from the garden that was present during the antebellum period. The garden contains many cultivars of Old Garden Roses, many of which could have been there during the antebellum period. Many of the cultivars in the garden today have been in cultivation for centuries. The garden’s main season of bloom is in late spring with some blooming throughout the summer and a second flush in the fall. Companion perennials, annuals, and bulbs ensure that the garden is in bloom all season. For visiting information see the .

In summary, I’ll leave you with a simple quote from Jeri Jennings of Heritage Roses, “The right rose in the right garden can make your heart sing.” Happy rose hunting!


“Old Garden Roses.” Oregon State University Extension, (http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/node/147).

“Roses,” University of Kentucky Extension, (www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id118/id118.pdf).

“Different Kinds of Roses.” University of Illinois Extension (http://m.extension.illinois.edu/roses/kinds.cfm).

“Léonie Bell Rose Garden at Tufton Farm.” Monticello

Whitacre, Benjamin, “The Lioness, the Musk, and Monticello’s Bell Garden.” Monticello

Ben Lomond Historic Site & Old Rose Garden. Commonwealth of Virginia http://www.virginia.org/listings/HistoricSites/BenLomondHistoricSiteOldRoseGarden/

Gravegarden, Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, Va., http://www.gravegarden.com/

Heritage Roses

Welcome to the website of Heritage Roses In Australia

Heritage Roses in Australia is a fellowship of those who aim to advance the preservation, cultivation, distribution, and study of old garden roses, including roses no longer in general cultivation, roses of historical importance, species roses and their hybrids.

Heritage Roses in Australia was formed in 1979 to bring together people who love and collect old roses, the roses of antiquity and the survivors from Australian colonial gardens. There was also interest in finding and rescuing Australian bred roses, for example those of Alister Clark, Frank Riethmuller and Mrs Fitzhardinge. The basic concept was to build informal, friendly networks for conservation of this part of our garden heritage; and by and large that starting point has remained the principal attraction for members.

There are regional groups in New South Wales (Blue Mountains, Illawarra-Southern Highlands, Orange-Central Tablelands, Sydney, Riverina), Queensland (Brisbane, Darling Downs), Tasmania (Southern Region), South Australia (Adelaide, Barossa & Beyond), ACT (Canberra), Victoria (Goldfields and Beyond, Greater Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, State Rose Garden, Western Districts) and Western Australia (Perth, Great Southern, South West).

The charm of heritage roses

Most gardeners know the modern rose varieties – such as Hybrid Teas, ground cover roses and the David Austin roses (yes they are modern – with some old blood!) but their older relatives are less well known.

Heritage roses display an amazing variety in size, form, foliage and hips which complement the diversity in blooms. We find sprays of small singles or doubles, clusters, pompoms, large singles and very full double flowers with exquisite perfumes. Many will repeat their flowering and are disease resistant. They mix happily with other shrubs, perennials, bulbs and annuals in the garden and many prefer just a light grooming. They are also drought tolerant and have survived in old gardens and cemeteries without special care.

Roses were grown before 2000 BC and occur naturally only in the northern hemisphere. Those of European origin do well in our temperate regions and those with Chinese origins thrive across both our cooler areas and the hot dry parts of Australia. Our historic Australian roses (eg the Alister Clark collection) are being rediscovered and welcomed back into our private and public gardens.

Unidentified found roses are usually given study names in double inverted commas; in the photo galleries and rose index on this website, they are denoted by ROR (renamed old rose) after the study name.

Species roses – Peter Cox

In the 90s it was decided that Peter Cox, who owned a heritage rose nursery, would grow a plant of each available species rose variety. Peter produced a botanical painting of each rose, as well as botanical notes. These notes, together with high resolution photographs of the paintings, were intended to form a book. It was however not until 2016 that the book was finally published, just in time for the 13th Biennial Conference of Heritage Roses in Australia. For more information on the book and how to purchase it visit our publications page.

Old Roses

The Old Roses are divided into two categories: Summer Flowering Old Roses and Repeat Flowering Old Roses. Summer Flowering Old Roses are the true Old Roses of early European origin. It was these roses that played a key part in the development of David Austin’s English Roses. The true Old Roses consist of the Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, Centifolias and Mosses. Although they only flower during the early summer, with one or two exceptions, they give a magnificent display. Many varieties have a wonderful fragrance and they are all full of character, as well as generally being extremely tough and easy to look after. Repeat Flowering Old Roses originate from the China Roses, which had the unique ability to repeat flower throughout the summer. They were introduced from China to Europe in the 18th century where they were soon cross-fertilized with the true Old Roses to create a group of repeat-flowering Old Roses, which includes the Chinas, Portlands, Bourbons and Hybrid Perpetuals. It may be said that the English Roses have now superseded these.

Less finicky than modern roses, antique varieties offer a carefree, informal look that perfectly complements the charm of old houses. (Photo: Roses of Yesterday)

Loved for their sumptuous blooms, heady fragrance, and nostalgic association with the past, antique roses are natural companions for the old house. These centuries-old varieties originated in Europe and were brought to the New World with the earliest settlers. They are characterized by a single but abundant flowering each season (though there are exceptions) and extraordinary cold hardiness. Their graceful forms vary in color from blush white to cerise pink.

The variety of antique roses is staggering—from upright to wide-spreading to those low enough to grow in small spaces, even in containers. They can be integrated into a shrub border, grown as single accents, or as hedges to highlight any landscape design. Climbers enhance porches, fences, and trellises at the side of the house or outbuilding. By choosing wisely among those that flower in early and mid-season or repeat bloom, you can have roses in bloom nearly all season. Fall foliage and attractive hips (fruit) extend the ornamental possibilities.

(Photo: Bob Osborne/Cornhill Nursery)

Roses from the past are low-maintenance, too. They don’t require lots of fertilizer or spraying or pruning to keep them looking their best. Plant in well-drained soil at a site with at least six hours of direct sun a day; some will take less. Go easy on pruning: For single bloomers, prune after flowering by removing dead, damaged, or crossed canes, as well as any slimmer than a pencil. For the most vigorous growth, be sure to keep the center of the rose open to the sun by cutting back extra growth. For repeat bloomers, follow the same routine, but prune when the rose is dormant in early spring. To shorten the height of both types, cut back no more than a third of the plant. Beware: Most old roses have thorns of some size, so wear suitable clothes and gloves when working around them.

Antique roses give us a glimpse into the past and allow us to share in a world where each bloom is treasured for its unique, individual traits. The following varieties are favorites for their extended flowering or repeat bloom, their floating aromas, fall interest, landscape uses, and hardiness. Above all, they possess beautifully formed, character-filled blossoms—which is what antique roses are all about.

*Unless noted, the roses described here are hardy from Zones 4 to 9 or 10.

Heirloom Rose Bushes – Locating Old Garden Roses For Your Garden

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

If you grew up with a grandmother or mother that loved and grew roses, then you might just remember the name of her favorite rose bush. So you get an idea to plant your own rose bed and would love to include in it some of the heirloom roses your mother or grandmother had in theirs.

Some of those old garden rose bushes, such as Peace rose, Mister Lincoln rose or Chrysler Imperial rose are still on the market at many online rose companies. However, there are some heirloom rose bushes that are not only older rose bushes but perhaps did not sell all that well in their day or have just gotten bumped out of the way due to the passage of time and new varieties becoming available.

How to Find Old Roses

There are still a few nurseries around that

specialize in keeping some of the older rose bush varieties around. Some of these older roses will have a very high sentimental value for the person wishing to find them. One such nursery that specializes in old fashioned roses is called Roses of Yesterday and Today, located in beautiful Watsonville, California. This nursery not only has the heirloom roses of yesterday but also those of today. Many of which (more than 230 varieties on display!) are grown in their Roses of Yesterday and Today Garden on their property.

The gardens were developed with the help of four generations of the family ownership, and the nursery dates back to the 1930’s. There are picnic benches around the gardens for folks to enjoy a picnic in the rose gardens while they admire the beautiful roses displayed there. Guinivere Wiley is one of the current owners of the nursery that firmly believes in excellent customer service. The old garden rose catalogs they have available are an absolute rose lovers delight and I recommend obtaining one.

Some Old Fashioned Roses Available

Here is just a short list of some of the old roses they still offer for sale with the year they were first offered for sale:

  • Ballerina rose – Hybrid musk – from 1937
  • Cecile Brunner rose – Polyantha – from 1881
  • Francis E. Lester rose – Hybrid musk – from 1942
  • Madame Hardy rose – Damask – from 1832
  • Queen Elizabeth rose – Grandiflora – from 1954
  • Electron rose – Hybrid Tea – from 1970
  • Green Rose – Rosa Chinensis Viridiflora – from 1843
  • Lavender Lassie rose – Hybrid musk – from 1958

Other Sources for Heirloom Roses

Other online sources for old roses include:

  • The Antique Rose Emporium
  • Amity Heritage Roses
  • Heirloom Roses

Rose Types & Their Differences

Species (‘wild roses’)

The source of all rose varieties. Producing simple, very fragrant flowers once a year in spring. True wild roses have only 5 petals and occur naturally, being native to North America, Europe and Asia.


Also a Shrub Rose, the Rugosas are exceptionally sturdy shrubs. The flowers may be single or double and are almost without exception, very fragrant. These roses are drought tolerant and require little in the way of maintenance. Disease resistant and hardy, they can be used to zones 3 and 4 without fear of loss. Perfect for a more informal landscape.

Old Garden Roses (also known as Antique or Heritage roses)

Rose varieties existing before 1867

The modern roses were all bred from “Old Garden Roses”, known for their fragrance and beauty. There is great variety in Old Garden Roses. Colors range through the whites, creams, pinks, crimsons, purples, and even “Rosa Mundi” with pink and white stripes. These are the roses of old European gardens and date back to the Roman Empire.

English Roses

English roses are stunningly large and beautiful with blooms that are cabbage-like in form. David Austin began cross-breeding Old Garden Roses and Modern roses with great success, culminating in a rose with the fragrance of the Old Garden Roses, but with the color range and reblooming ability of the Modern roses. Hardy in zones 5-9.

Modern Roses

Rose varieties not existing before 1867

Modern roses are primarily described by their ability to flower throughout a long season, typically until the first frost. The Modern rose comes in almost every color except a true blue or true black.

Hybrid Teas

The Hybrid Tea was the first modern rose and are the classic long-stemmed rose, with individual blooms. They are hardy in zones 4-9 and bloom repeatedly throughout the season. This is the largest group of roses.


Grandifloras have a shorter stem than the Hybrid Tea, but with clustered, large, double blossoms. They have the same hardiness zones and also bloom repeatedly. They are normally without fragrance.

Floribunda Roses Floribundas were introduced in 1930. The original floribundas were the result of crosses of Hybrid Tea roses and an old-fashioned class of rose called Polyanthas. These are relatively compact bushes with excellent hardiness and disease resistance that produce large clusters of blooms. They are continuous bloomers and have the same color range as the Hybrid Teas. Floribundas will adapt to a wide range of soil and temperature conditions. They are great in containers.

Modern Shrub Roses (Landscape Rose)

Also called Landscape Roses, the Shrub Rose is known for its well-rounded form. Wonderful in mass or as an informal hedge, they also possess the other great qualities of the modern rose; hardiness, disease resistance, and continuous blooming habit. They are hardy from zones 5-10.

Climbing Roses

The Climbing Rose can be either an Old Garden Rose or a Modern Rose, the type is drawn from both groups. Old Garden Rose Climbers usually bloom only once a season, but are vigorous and hardy. Modern Climbers will rebloom as do their parents; the Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, and Floribunda roses. These roses must have support to climb, either in the form of a trellis or fence and must be trained to the support structure.

Polyantha (Fairy)

The Polyantha roses are an extremely tough and hardy rose. The plant itself is low growing (usually not more than 24″) with lots of foliage, but they bloom so heavily at their height that the blooms can often make the foliage seem insignificant. Although they usually have no fragrance they have become an extremely popular rose. Also known as Fairy Roses.

Groundcover Roses

Groundcover Roses generally have smaller flowers, grow very low, and have dense foliage.

Miniature Roses

Miniature roses are perfectly formed roses, but range in height from 3″ to 18″. They are hardy and rebloom easily, coming in all modern rose colors. Excellent for small gardens and containers.

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