The final group of Old European Roses to be discussed, the heavy, globular, cupped, once-flowering fragrant blooms of the Centifolia Rose make it the quintessential Old Rose! They have been portrayed in art, textiles, wallpaper, postcards, decorative papers, furniture…the list is endless! Please note: The first four photos of this post are courtesy of Pixabay (https://pixabay.com). R. x centifolia, also known as the 100-petalled Rose or the Cabbage Rose, was once thought to be a species, but DNA studies have revealed that it is a complex hybrid, whose genetic background includes genes of R. gallica; R. phoenicia; R. moschata; R. canina and R. damascena. It first appeared in the late 16th century and over 200 varieties (including the mosses) were bred in the period between 1600 and 1800, only 22 varieties of Centifolias now commonly available. They were much featured in Dutch and Flemish still-life paintings of the time (http://scvrs.homestead.com/roseart2.html), as well as later works by Renoir and Van Gogh, hence two more titles: the Holland Rose and Rose des Peintures. See: http://scvrs.homestead.com/RosesInArt3.html. It is also the rose featured in Victorian wallpapers, textiles, curtains, chintz sofas and tapestry bags. The first photo is a decorative paper, based on a textile printing pattern from the 1880s to the 1920s. Its commercial production in Morocco and France to produce rose oil for the perfumery industry, especially in the area around Grasse, has given it its final name, the Provence Rose. There is even a special annual Rose Festival for Centifolia roses in Grasse. See: http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2015-04-05/french-town-has-the-worlds-best-roses-grasse and http://www.villadesparfums.com/grasse-rose-festival-8-10-may-2015/. This year’s festival is from the 12th to the 14th May 2017. See: http://www.frenchriviera-tourism.com/CALENDAR/expo-rose-grasse-N4fiche_FMAPAC0060000119-rub_103.html. It is also possible to visit a Centifolia rose farm at Domaine de Manon, Plascassier, near Grasse. See: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/grasse/attractions/domaine-de-manon/a/poi-sig/1025273/359254 and http://www.le-domaine-de-manon.com/index-page=the-centifolia-rose.php.html. The fragrant petals of these beautiful May roses are also used to make potpourri. Centifolias have produced a number of different variants or sports (mutations), including Moss Roses; dwarf Centifolias and striped and spotted varieties of Centifolias. In R. x centifolia muscosa, a mutation of the glands has produced a thick covering of green or reddish-brown , resinous hairs (moss) on the stems, buds and sepals. The moss covering is very sticky and balsam-scented. This unusual feature made them very popular with Victorian gardeners, who loved anything different or exotic. Victorian catalogues listed 30 to 40 varieties of Moss Roses. More later…
Centifolias are lax, open shrubs, 1.5 metres to 2 metres tall, with long, drooping, very thorny canes, which bow under the weight of the blooms. They need lots of room to spread out, though can benefit from staking or training.
Their large, rounded, drooping, coarse, grey-green pinnate leaves have 5 to 7 leaflets.
The flowers are very distinctive- huge globular deeply-cupped flowers (up to 10.2 cm wide), made up of numerous tissue-thin, overlapping, tightly-packed petals. Usually pink, with some whites, a few dark red-purples and lavender-violets (eg Tour de Malakoff) and a few spotted or striped varieties, the once-flowering blooms are highly fragrant with a distinctive Centifolia fragrance (clean and sweet with a hint of honey) and their abundance makes a wonderful display in Summer.The hips are insignificant. Centifolias are extremely hardy and require little pruning, except the removal of very old wood after flowering. They can be shortened by 1/3 growth in late Winter. They like full sun and plenty of space and air circulation to prevent mildew and black spot. There are some dwarf hybrids, which are more dense and upright, with smaller leaves and flowers.
R. x centifolia is a graceful, lax, open shrub, 1.8 metres tall and 1.5 metres wide with large coarse leaves and 7.6 cm wide very double, heavy, highly fragrant, deep pink globular blooms, borne singly or in small clusters on long stems. See the last two photos, as well as the photo of the shrub below.Fantin Latour: Named after the French artist and well known rose painter, Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), this rose has an unknown lineage. It is a well-formed shrub, 1.5 metres tall and 1.2 metres wide, with almost smooth, arching canes and smoother, rounder, dark green leaves. It grows well in a bed or border and has a relatively short blooming period in late Spring. On either side of the entrance arch to our harp-shaped herb garden in Armidale, we grew two specimens, from which we took cuttings for our new Candelo garden, where it is growing on the shed fence next to Bourbon rose, Mme Isaac Pereire.
It produces large clusters of very double, cupped, delicately-fragrant, pale blush pink blooms, 5 to 7.6 cm wide, which flatten out with a swirl of petals and a button eye. It is very hardy with moderate disease-resistance.Sports of the Centifolia roses include :
R. x centifolia bullata is another sport, with fewer thorns and very large crinkly leaves, hence its name the Lettuce-leaved Rose; and
R. x centifolia variegata or Village Maid, a striped variant;
Rose de Meaux, a miniature Centifolia, 60 cm high and wide, with tiny foliage and tiny 3.8 cm multi-petalled, rosy-pink dianthus-like blooms; There is also a white form.
And the Moss Roses with a wide range of sizes, habits and colours from white to rose-red, due to their mixed breeding. Hybridization with crimson Chinas over the years has produced some deep crimson mosses, a colour lacking in their Centifolia parents, as well as some slight repeat-blooming. Today, there are 32 types commonly available, though Peter Beales lists 52 different types.
Nuits de Young has dark mossing; very dark maroon-purple, highly fragrant blooms and a tendency to sucker and spread.Mme Louis Lévêque is a small upright shrub 1.2 metres tall and 90 cm wide, with long, pointed, bright green leaves and bright pink mossy buds, which open to 10 cm large, soft warm pink, full cupped, silky flowers, which fade to a lighter pink. There is some repeat flowering later in the season. Unfortunately, the buds ball (do not open) in wet weather.
Alfred de Dalmas, also known as Mousseline, 1855, is another repeat-blooming moss with a short tidy growth (90 cm tall and 60 cm wide) and was bred from the Portland Damasks. It blooms continuously from Summer to late Autumn with creamy-pink, semi-double scented flowers.
Chapeau de Napoléon, the most famous Moss of all! Found on a convent wall in Fribourg, Switzerland in 1820, R. x centifolia cristata, also known as the Crested Moss, was introduced to commerce by Vibert. Identical to R. centifolia, except for the mossy growth on the sepals, it is a tidy medium shrub 1.5 metres tall and 1.2 metres wide, which blooms only once in Summer, but over an extended period, lasting several weeks. The heavily mossed, feathery looking buds have extended calyces, giving them the appearance of Napoléon’s cocked tricorn hat, hence its name. The buds open to fully double deep silvery pink, highly fragrant cabbage like blooms. It is moderately vigorous and disease-resistant, but may require some support.With the introduction of China Roses from the East to Europe, rose breeding started in earnest and there was literally an explosion in the number of different rose varieties available to the Victorian gardener. Next month, we will look at China Roses in detail and the reason they caused such excitement and made such an impact in the Western world.