Russell Studebaker: Roses are a bit of history
BY RUSSELL STUDEBAKER In Our Gardens
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 6:59 AM
Valentine's Day is approaching, and what better token of love to give than a bouquet of roses. Of course, they will only last for a short while.
But think of roses that will live and give more lasting memories, pleasure and significance to your loved one. These are not just any rose; I am reflecting on growing old roses, heirloom roses, the antique garden roses.
The first thing that comes to mind about growing roses is their demanding and somewhat fussy requirements. They take a lot of money, time and work. But unlike modern roses that require devoted attention, spraying, fertilizing and nurturing, old roses need less care.
Some old roses prefer only a minimum of pruning, and their survival is evident from specimens found in old cemeteries and abandoned home sites.
"We grow old roses for their historic interest, color, fragrance and form that make them indispensable in today's gardens as in those of centuries past," said Mike Shoup, owner and founder of The Antique Rose Emporium, a Texas nursery that specializes entirely in old roses.
Shoup opened The Antique Rose Emporium in 1984. The shop specializes in the reintroduction and distribution of historic roses. With display-retail centers in Independence and San Antonio, Texas, The Antique Rose Emporium display gardens draw some 50,000 visitors annually.
Old roses have the timeless beauty of form, with colors that are more muted than modern roses, handsome foliage and many are adorned with colorful rose hips (pods) in the fall.
You connect with history with old roses, as you can grow the same rose admired by Pliny, or even plant the same ones that Empress Josephine grew at Malmaison, France.
Perhaps most notable about old roses is their fragrance.
Theirs is a diversity that unfortunately is not held by many modern roses. Another advantage of old roses is that they are propagated by cuttings growing on their own roots, not grafted like most modern roses. This means that they can regenerate from their own roots should any mishap befall the top growth.
The Antique Rose Emporium mail-orders roses in 2-gallon containers grown on their own roots. They are shipped mid-September through mid-May. Each rose and container weighs 8-10 pounds and costs $18.95 plus shipping and handling. These roses come in excellent packaging. Get a catalog by calling 800-441-0002 or visit tulsaworld.com/antiquerose
Shoup's newest book, "The Empress of the Garden," is without a doubt the finest book published on old roses. This is a coffee table size book. Full pages are devoted to a particular old rose and a profile of its description, growing characteristics, and use in the garden. Seeing these roses grown in real landscapes gives inspiration and examples how these roses can create drama, romance, and great beauty in a garden setting. The book is available from The Antique Emporium for $39 plus shipping and handling.
Shoup said it best: "Unlike a painting or piece of furniture, an old rose is a living testament to history and beauty."
Original Print Headline: Roses are a bit of history
Russell Studebaker is a professional horticulturist and garden writer who can be reached at email@example.com.
Dormund, an heirloom climbing and reblooming rose, has orange blooms in the summer and red hips in fall. MIKE SHOUP/Courtesy