Rose growing wasn’t always so complicated. In fact for thousands of years it involved no work at all. Mother Nature herself created the first roses which are species roses. By estimate over some 100 plus exist. The arguments as to what defines a species rose are numerous and this is not the place for that. Suffice to say that species roses have been on this earth long before man, long before cultivated gardens and long before anyone knew what an outward facing bud eye was.
These species roses survived without any care and still do today. Many a hedgerow in England, a mountainside in China or an old homestead in America still contain these original roses that continue to thrive happily under the hand of Mother Nature. And fortunately many gardeners still grow and enjoy them in their own gardens.
Over time and with a little help from the birds and the bees pollen from the Species roses was mixed and other forms of cultivated or “Hybrid” roses began to emerge. Some of the earliest known to the western world are what is known at the “Old European Roses”. Groups like Gallicas, Damasks, Centifolias, Albas, Portlands and Mosses poured forth perfume mostly during the spring bloom season. In Asia the China and Tea roses began to emerge carrying with them repeat flowering qualities rarely seen in the western world and destined to remain that way until the times of the clipper ships.
Like their native ancestors these roses too thrived on benign neglect. The weaker varieties among them were weeded out by either the hand of nature or the hoe of the gardener and the stronger ones persisted by being passed from garden to garden via cuttings or shoots that emerged next to the parent plant in the warmth of springtime.
These were Garden Roses.