The rose is popular for its fragrance and its beauty; in addition to the classical rose garden, roses are ideal fragrant flowers for scented garden borders.
The classical rose (Rosa damascena) has had a long history of use; the rose was present in ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Arabian, Greek and Roman rose gardens, although not necessarily in the same form as it is known today. Cultivated roses have only developed in recent history; however, whatever form the rose has taken it has never lost popularity in the form of rose gardens.
Classical Rose Gardens
Throughout history, roses have been grown in classic, formal rose gardens; roses have traditionally enjoyed an exclusive space in the garden due to their fragrance and their beauty. In late eighteenth century France, the empress Josephine (1763 – 1814), wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, was responsible for a great collection of roses in many classic rose gardens at her Malmaison estate; the rose gardens of the Empress Josephine reputedly had over 250 rose species, grown in classic rose bed style.
There are many historic European gardens which have had exclusive rose gardens, often surrounded by box hedging; a formal, classic rose garden will exclusively feature many rose species. A less formal rose garden may adopt the cottage garden style and mix roses with other fragrant plant species.
Roses for Garden Borders
Roses can be mixed into garden borders with other fragrant plant species; roses make good companion plants in a culinary herb garden. Mixed with herbs such as catmint, chives and lemon balm, roses remain disease-free as the herbal partnership helps to combat disease in the rose species. Roses also mix well with fragrant evergreen shrubs, such as the mint bush, adding color and interest to a garden border.
Wild Rose Species for Summer Gardens
Today, there are many fragrant cultivated rose species in many colors to choose for rose gardens. Botanically, roses are classified into various groups. The original wild roses are the ancestors of today’s cultivated wild rose species. It is thought that the Gallica rose species may have made its way from France to England during the Crusades in the 12th century; in fact, Rosa Mundi (Rosa gallica Versicolor) was named after ‘Fair Rosamund’, the mistress of Henry II (1133 – 1189). Many Gallica rose species flower throughout the summer and have a fragrant aroma.
Centifolia and Alba Roses for Garden Borders
The centifolia rose species enjoys a warm climate and is very fragrant; centifolia roses became popular with the Dutch in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Fragrant centifolia rose species include the ‘Chapeau de Napoleon’ (Rosa x centifolia Cristata), the Taffeta Rose (Tour de Malakoff) and the ‘Rose de Msi’.The alba rose species dates back to the Middle Ages and is a fragrant rose species for rose borders; alba roses include the ‘White Rose of York’ (Alba maxima), the ‘Queen of Denmark’ (Konigin von Danemark) and the ‘Alba Semiplena’.
Bourbon Roses for Classic Rose Gardens
The bourbon rose species was derived from the southern Indian ocean and has many fragrant members suitable for rose borders and gardens; the ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ was named after the French garden of the Empress Josephine. Other bourbon rose species include ‘Louise Odier’, ‘Boule de Neige’ and ‘Madame Issac Pereire’.
Other Rose Species for Gardens
There are many other cultivated rose species which can be used in a rose garden or rose border; these include new English roses, Damask roses, Portland Roses, Tea Roses and Rugosa roses. Roses are also grown as fragrant climbing plants, bushes, shrubs and miniature rose species either alone, mixed with other rose species or fragrant plants, or in an exclusive rose garden.