Tag Archives: Bourbon roses

QUITE POSSIBLY THE MOST FRAGRANT ROSE FOUND THE WORLD OVER

After Saturday morning’s arresting sunrise, I took a few more quick tests with the Fuji X-T4, shooting the roses blooming in our garden, or wall of fragrance, would be more apt at this time of year. The Lily-of-the-Valley are nearing the end of their florescence and quite dramatically, all the roses have popped open simultaneously. It doesn’t happen this way every year, usually the blooming times are a bit more staggered, but I am not complaining 🙂

The most potently fragrant rose that blooms in our garden is the Bourbon rose Madame Isaac Pereire. She is thought to be the most fragrant rose on Earth. That is an extraordinary claim to fame but I find it to be true in our little fragrant oasis, as well as in client’s gardens where I have planted Mme. Isaac Pereire.

Bourbon roses originated from Reunion, a small French Island in the Indian Ocean, which lies east of Madagascar. Reunion was formerly known as the Isle de Bourbon. Rose hedges ring the island and here there was a chance cross between the Old Blush China rose and the Autumn Damask rose. The resulting Bourbon roses are known for their repeat flowering, semi-climbing habit, glossy foliage, and intense fragrance.

Plant Bourbon roses and you will be transported to a dreamy Island in the Indian Ocean.

Blooming today in our garden is another deliciously fragrant Bourbon rose, Variegata di Bologna

Our “Mystery Rose” comes from a cutting of a rose found growing in a woodsy glen near our first house that we moved to in Gloucester. When we purchased our own home on the other side of Gloucester, I was afraid I would never smell that beautiful scent again and clipped some cutting (this was before I knew about Bourbon roses). The Mystery Rose surprised in how quickly and how tall it grew. Although only once-blooming, this wonderfully hearty rose some years grows up past my second floor bedroom window. How lucky am I to smell this rose every morning when lying in bed thinking about the upcoming day.

Mystery Rose

Another intoxicatingly fragrant rose of unknown origin is Darlow’s Engima, also blooming and clamoring up the side of the house where is located my office on the first floor, and bedroom on the second.

Two mysterious roses

 

You can read more about Madame Isaac Pereire, Variegata di Bologna, and more potently fragrant roses in my book on garden design, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, which I both wrote and illustrated, and published by David Godine here.

Read More Here: ROSES FROM THE FRENCH ISLE REUNION

 

WEEK TWO OF SHINGLES – BUT OUR ROSES ARE LOOKING BEAUTIFUL!

Uggh, it’s tough. Get the vaccine if you can. I had tried several times but it was never in stock and then I would lose track. Today is the first day trying to go without the pain medication. Practically anything is better than feeling ditzy all the time. It’s worse at the end of the day.

I’ve been home so much this spring and don’t usually get to enjoy our roses. Charlotte and I have been loving sitting in her tent having tea parties and reading storybooks and you can smell the roses while we are reading, it’s really so sweet <3

Roses from the French Isle Reunion

Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’  -2 ©Kim Smith 2015‘Variegata di Bologna’

With Reunion in the news, I thought readers might be interested to learn that Reunion is home to some of the most highly scented roses in the world, the Bourbon roses. Bourbon roses grow very well in Cape Ann gardens and have the wonderful combined qualities of fabulous fragrance and repeat blooming. I wrote a bit about them in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities (see chapter 14). Bourbon roses are so named because Reunion was formerly called Isle de Bourbon.

Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! 

A sepal, a petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flash of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—
A caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!

Emily Dickinson

Rosa bourboniana

The Bourbon roses (Rosa bourboniana) comprise one of the most extravagantly scented class of roses, along with having a wide range of growth habit in form and height. From the shrubby and compact ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison,’ growing to about two feet, to the thornless climbing ‘Zephirine Drouhin,’ there is a suitable Bourbon rose available to fill nearly every conceivable desired effect in the landscape.

Named for the island of Reunion, formerly called Isle de Bourbon, Rosa bourboniana is a natural crossing of the China rose (repeat blooming) with the Autumn Damask rose. Reunion belongs to the archipelago of Mascareignes in the Indian Ocean and lies east of Madagascar. Originally discovered by the Portuguese, then colonized by the French in the seventeenth-century, Reunion had a diverse population of settlers from around Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. The Bourbon rose was discovered growing wild in Reunion in approximately 1817.

Hybridized Bourbon roses flower in hues of white to china pink to cerise and purple. The flowers are quartered at the center and filled with overlapping petals. With their sublime fragrance, tolerance for cold temperatures, and freedom of flowering (‘Louise Odier’ remains in bloom from June until the first frost), Bourbons are amongst the most distinctive of all roses.

The following is a list of Bourbon roses successfully growing in our garden, along with one failure noted.

‘Louise Odier’ ~ 1851 ~ Bourbon ~ Delicate china pink, camellia-style flowers, enchanting and intensely fragrant. Blooms lavishly throughout the season, from early June to November, with a brief rest after the first flush of June flowers. Grows four to five feet.

‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ ~ 1868 ~ Bourbon ~ Clear hot pink. Thornless. The sensuous Bourbon fragrance is there, only not as intense relative to some others noted here. Repeat blooms. Twelve feet.

‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ ~ 1881 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep raspberry-magenta. Considered to be one of the most fragrant roses. Six to seven feet. Note: We no longer grow Madame Isaac Pereire as its buds usually turned into brown, blobby globs that rarely fully opened due to damp sea air.

‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau’ ~ 1890 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep rose pink, richly fragrant and consistently in bloom through October and into November. Pairs beautifully with Louise Odier. Four to five feet.

‘Variegata di Bologna’ ~ 1909 ~ Bourbon ~ Creamy pale pink with rose-red striations. Suffused with the heady Bourbon fragrance. The foliage becomes tattered-looking later in the season. Slight repeat bloom, although it initially flowers for an extended period of time, four to six weeks in all. Tall growing, best supported against a pillar.

‘Souvenir de Saint Anne’s’ ~ 1916 ~ Bourbon ~ Ivory flushed with warm pink and cream single to semi-double blossoms. Sensuous Bourbon fragrance. Compact growing, ideal for the garden room. Continually blooming. Two feet. Note: ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’ is a sport of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (1843), with the similar lovely colorway. The unopened buds and blooms of ‘Malmaison’ have the tendency to be ruined in damp air, whereas ‘St. Anne’s’ do not.

Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’  Gloucester Garden ©Kim Smith 2015

Tips for improved rose culture:

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