Rose Cuttings: July 2014
by Mike Shoup
Tea Roses — The Envy of the North
Often referred to as “the roses my grandmother grew,” Teas embody the blousy, nostalgic style of yesteryear with their pastel blossoms of apricot, light yellow or soft pink. Their tea-like fragrances, unique in the rose empire, add to their allure.
Teas first captured the imagination in the mid-1800s. Like roses of the China class, they are big, repeat-blooming plants with Chinese genes. But they are subtly different in the way they flower — softer and more delicate looking, with their fuller, perfectly presented blossoms. They seem to hold their shoulders a little higher than their cousins, those hedgerow and foundation plant stalwarts, with an attitude that says, “Look at me.”
Tea roses deserve prime locations, where they’ll get respect as the queens of the garden. It’s no wonder they were the precursors to the beautiful flowering Hybrid Teas. Lucky for us they are hardy only to Zone 7, limiting their performance to the South.
A perfect example is Duchesse de Brabant. With her exquisitely formed, cabbagey roses, this rose could star in a Dutch Master’s painting. You’d want the painting to be a scratch and sniff, as her luscious raspberry fragrance is present even on warm summer days. She bears her delicate flowers on weak stems, and their nodding gives her an opulent quality. Her flowers also “drip” from the canopy, littering the ground around her.