This article is from the Rose Gardening FAQ, by Bill Chandler firstname.lastname@example.org, Jolene Adams email@example.com, Brent C. Dickerson firstname.lastname@example.org, Karen Baldwin email@example.com, and many contributors
The early crosses between Teas and Hybrid Perpetuals, Chinas and Bourbons,
Gallicas and Albas brought us the culmination in the 1840's of the
hybridizing efforts of the Victorian plant breeders--the Hybrid Perpetuals,
the darlings of the Victorian garden. These crosses combined the balance,
elegance and perpetual flowering characteristics of the tender Teas and
Chinas with the robustness and profuse flowering characteristics of the
European roses, themselves products of crosses between Portlands, Chinas,
Damasks, Gallicas and Bourbons.
Intense competitions sprang up between various rose breeders and garden
factions and the idea of rose shows and exhibiting one rose against another
took hold. Regulatory bodies were formed to set forth form and procedure for
these competitions, and a "competition standard" for each type of rose was
Breeding experiments continued in the search for a hardier repeat-blooming
rose and the search for an intense yellow color in the large-flowered roses.
Alas for the Modern Roses--although many admirable characteristics can be
found in the genes passed on by the older roses, various weaknesses and
susceptibilities were also bred into the new roses. Some traits predominate,
some are masked. If you look at a modern rosebush today, you will see traces
of its ancestry in the way the leaflets set on the stem, the curve and color
of the prickles, leaf color and shape, the habit of growth (tall and lanky
like some of the Damasks, squat and very shrubby like the Rugosas), even the
"signature" of its fragrance--lemony, citrine, "old rose" and damp tea. As
with all hybrids, some are extremely tough and enduring, some are fragile
and weak. They grow, they bloom, they make us happy.
We don't apologize for the way Modern Roses have turned out--they are
children of the attempts of humans to bend nature to their own will. Roses
are lovely - old ones, new ones, "throwbacks," and foundlings. They all
deserve a chance to show us their own special beauty. We submit the
following notes as a starting point for those interested in the Modern
Roses. We also hope that those interested will check out the books listed at
the end of this FAQ for more detail on the subject.