Rose Cuttings – October, 2008

Paul Neyron. Photos courtesy of the author.

Fragrance in the Garden

Duchesse de Brabant

In our Texas gardens, roses are in full bloom this fall. Cool nights have brought about larger blooms and brighter colors. These blossoms are eye candy for anyone who ventures into the garden. But it is the fragrance that makes the trip memorable.

Fragrance is the soul of the flower. Roses have many subtle nuances that differentiate them. Distinctions between classes of roses can be determined by their fragrance. Hints of lemon, apple, fruit, wine damask rose, violets, pepper, musk, clove, and nasturtium are all part of rose fragrance.

Many variables affect the presence and intensity of these fragrances — time of day, heat, wind, humidity and, most importantly, the sniffer himself or herself. People are genetically predisposed in their ability to smell. “Noses” for the perfume industry are like tasters for the wine industry — people with discriminating senses that can sniff out the smallest of differences.

For the gardener, the fragrance of flowers is an important factor in creating a memorable garden. Felder Rushing described this best once in addressing a gardening audience. He told how, with empty camera and young daughter in hand, he would pretend to take a picture of her smelling a rose. He would say, “Now, Zoe, put your nose close and take a deep breath, and I will take your picture. He further explained, “One day, 30 years from now, I’ll be dead or gone, but she’ll come across that rose again and with one sniff, we’ll be back together again.”

So it is about fragrance….

For three roses that are very fragrant and very different from each other, try Duchess de Brabant – a light raspberry tea fragrance; Rose de Rescht – a heavy damask perfume; or Paul Neyron – a lemony scent.

About the author: Mike Shoup is the owner of the Antique Rose Emporium. Visit their Brenham and San Antonio display gardens for endless ideas on landscaping with roses. To order roses online, visit

Attend the 21st Fall Festival of Roses the weekend of Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 at the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence. Special presentations each day will provide opportunities to learn from experts on rose culture, bulbs, cut flowers, yard art and more. See schedule details at

Posted by Neil Sperry
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