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Antique Roses: Damasks

The original old fashioned rose, used for attar of roses

The Damask rose was introduced officially in Europe during the XIII century, brought from Persia; but was probably in Europe before that, since it shows up in ancient Roman frescoes, specifically the Autumn Damask rose. R. damascena can be found nowadays in the wild around Morocco, Andalusia, the Middle East and the Caucasus. It may also be a descendant of the musk rose.

These roses are shrubs and are also included on what is referred as old garden roses (OGR), Heritage or Antiques. Damasks are related to gallicas. Summer damasks are crosses between gallicas and R. phoenicea and autumn damasks between Gallicas and R. moschata.

These varieties are very resistant, vigorous and robust, with vicious thorns. Develop into large and tall plants, mostly growing to around 4ft x 36 in / 1.2m x 90cm. Use a damask in the garden as a feature, by itself or in mixed borders and beds.

Damasks Are Easy To Grow

Damask roses require minimal care and are easy to grow. They tolerate any type of soil, except chalk. Give them some general fertilizer in spring and rose food in mid-summer and cover the soil at their bottom with organic mulch and they will be happy. Some pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. Just cut out the weak or diseased stems and enough just to establish a good plant shape. Do cut dead heads in late summer also.

Exceptionally Fragrant

Damasks flowers are the most fragrant roses from the Old Garden. In ancient times they were grown for perfume, rose oil or attar of roses. Cosmetic products were made from them. There is recent research made on R. damascena essential oil, to prove its antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-microbial activities.

Most Damasks only have one flush of flowers, in summer. An exception is the rose 'Autumn Damask' that flowers during summer and autumn, repeatedly. Flowers are semi-double or double blooms made of velvety petals. Damask roses are known for their 60 petals and were treated as queens in Persian and Arabian gardens.

  • Pink Leda medium pink, double blooms
  • Ispahan aka Rose d'Isfahan, Pompon des Princes, pink double flowers
  • Celsiana aka Abondante, Belle Couronnee, De Cels, Incarnata Maxima, La Coquette, Mutabilis, Van Huysum: light pink, semi-double blooms
  • La Ville de Bruxelles aka Ville de Bruxelles - medium pink, double blooms
  • Rose d'Hivers - white flowers, shade tolerant
  • Blush Damask aka Blush Gallica, Rosier de Damas a Petale teinte de rose - light pink double flowers
  • Professeur Emile Perrot aka Kazanlyk - medium pink, double quartered flowers
  • Omar Khayyam - medium pink, double quartered flowers
  • Madame Hardy aka Mme Hardy - pure white blooms, with delicious strong fragrance and light green foliage
  • Madame Knorr aka 'Comte de Chambord' - warm pink flowers; repeat flowering, in early summer to mid-summer, repeating in early to mid autumn.
  • Madame Zoetmans aka Mme. Soetmans, Mme. Zoetmans, - white, Double Quartered flowers.
  • Autumn aka Rosa x damascena var. semperflorens, Four Seasons, Quatre Saisons, Autumn Damask - medium pink double flowers, very fragrant. Repeating flowering during summer and autumn.

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.
Floribunda
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.
Miniatures
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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