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Antique Roses

When I first developed an interest in roses, these were simply called old fashioned. That is the name I always used, and it comes naturally to me to refer to something like a damask or alba as old fashioned rather than antique. But times change, and now they are offically Antique. Though for me, they are still (and always will be "old fashioned. perhaps it's me that fits that description ;-)

Remember This Date: 1867

Antique, old fashioned, heritage, heirloom, Old Garden roses. Call these what you will, they are all the same... roses bred or in existence prior to 1867. Why that date? because that was when the very first 'modern rose' was released, the Hybrid Tea La France.

The only trouble with such a precise date is that you then technically shouldn't call a rose bred in 1868 an Antique, even if it is part of a family that goes back before that date. Some of the Moss roses for example were being bred right up to 1880, but they shouldn't be classified as "modern roses" just because they happened to be created a couple of years too late.

An example of this, is an old Moss rose called "Soupert et Notting". There is a photo of that further down the page. This was bred in 1874 so I suppose it meets the criteria of being called a modern rose. But I refuse to do so ;-) Speaking of Moss roses, have you ever noticed how most of them have French names? The French were very passionate about a lot of things back then (they had finished cutting of aristocrats heads about 80 years previously) and they contributed greatly to the popularity of roses. Viva la France!

Soupert et Notting Moss Rose
The Moss rose, Soupert et Notting

Making Sense of Rose Classifications

It's confusing for anyone other than fulltime rosarians... how exactly are roses classified? Here is the beginners guide to rose classification.

First, let's remember that important date, 1867.

  • Rose types (or classes) prior to 1867 are classed as Old Garden Roses.
  • Roses after that date are defined as Modern Roses.

So far, so good. Within that broad definition of Old Garden , we have the classes. Gallica, Alba, Damask and so on. And within that, the different varieties. And in the modern roses, it's exactly the same thing. We have the various classes such as Hybrid Tea. Anything in the definition of Modern Roses that cannot be placed into a type can be classed as a shrub rose. This is really a catch all for those roses that simply will not fit into a type.

An example of that is David Austins English Roses. It's a complex subject, and this guide only gives the very basics.

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Roses By Type

Wild roses, Hybrids, climbers, miniatures and more. Make some sense of the multitude of rose varieties with our handy guides.

Wild Roses
Wild or species roses. They have a natural simple beauty, with their plain 5 petal flowers and vibrant red hips.
Old Fashioned
This includes varieties such as Alba, Damask, Gallica, Hybrid Perpetual, Bourbons, Moss, and many more.
Hybrid Tea
Probably the most popular type in use today. Orignally created by crossing Hybrid Perpetuals and Tea roses.
Climbing Roses
The climbers are not a variety, they can come from different families such as HT's, Floribundas, Antiques etc.
Rambling Roses
Similar habit to the climbers, but with a few subtle (and important to remember) differences between them.
Well known for their prolific sprays of flowers, the floribundas are a very popular garden choice.
Ground Covers
This encompasses varieties such as the Knockout, Drift, and Star roses. Generally very easy care.
A great way to bring your roses indoors or onto the patio. And with a low price, you can have as many as you want!
English Roses
One of the best loved varieties, David Austin's English roses are a must have for your garden.
Shrub Roses
This class is a "catch all" for roses that just don't fit other catagories. A bit of a cop out really!
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