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Botanist's Lens: Stop and Smell the Heirloom Roses

Especially the eternally divine heirlooms, the Gallicas and the Damasks.

Heirloom roses
Heirloom roses with carpenter shop in the background

Modern roses are plentiful to choose from when it comes to color and shape, but when it comes to fragrance, they aren't even close in comparison to the old world charms. Longevity of the petals, repeat blooms throughout spring and summer and bold colors seem to be the key for hybrid's success.

Also, increased shelf life for transit from grower to a florist's refrigerator and then to the customers coffee table are key. But have you ever smelled the roses you buy at the florist? They surely don't fit the quote "Stop and smell the roses," rather they seem to fit "Most bang for your buck."

A rose isn't a true rose if it doesn't have its soul: its eternal fragrance. Old world charms - heirloom roses as they are referred to - aren't ample in the trade, but they are certainly available for sale with specific growers.

Two deeply fragrant old world charms growing at London Town, amongst the many modern hybrid roses ar, Rosa gallica var. officinalis and the Rosa damascena that have been around for thousands of years.

Rosa gallica var. offcinallis
Rosa gallica var. offcinallis

Rosa gallica var. offcinallis "R. gallica var. officinalis is also known as the apothecary rose. The oldest of old garden roses it appears in the ancestry of most other roses". Check out the following for a comprehensive list of varieties:

Rosa x damascena