By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District
If you grew up with a grandmother or mother that loved and grew roses, then you might just remember the name of her favorite rose bush. So you get an idea to plant your own rose bed and would love to include in it some of the heirloom roses your mother or grandmother had in theirs.
Some of those old garden rose bushes, such as Peace rose, Mister Lincoln rose or Chrysler Imperial rose are still on the market at many online rose companies. However, there are some heirloom rose bushes that are not only older rose bushes but perhaps did not sell all that well in their day or have just gotten bumped out of the way due to the passage of time and new varieties becoming available.
How to Find Old Roses
There are still a few nurseries around that specialize in keeping some of the older rose bush varieties around. Some of these older roses will have a very high sentimental value for the person wishing to find them. One such nursery that specializes in old fashioned roses is called Roses of Yesterday and Today, located in beautiful Watsonville, California. This nursery not only has the heirloom roses of yesterday but also those of today. Many of which (more than 230 varieties on display!) are grown in their Roses of Yesterday and Today Garden on their property.
The gardens were developed with the help of four generations of the family ownership, and the nursery dates back to the 1930’s. There are picnic benches around the gardens for folks to enjoy a picnic in the rose gardens while they admire the beautiful roses displayed there. Guinivere Wiley is one of the current owners of the nursery that firmly believes in excellent customer service. The old garden rose catalogs they have available are an absolute rose lovers delight and I recommend obtaining one.
Here is just a short list of some of the old roses they still offer for sale with the year they were first offered for sale:
- Ballerina rose – Hybrid musk – from 1937
- Cecile Brunner rose – Polyantha – from 1881
- Francis E. Lester rose – Hybrid musk – from 1942
- Madame Hardy rose – Damask – from 1832
- Queen Elizabeth rose – Grandiflora – from 1954
- Electron rose – Hybrid Tea – from 1970
- Green Rose – Rosa Chinensis Viridiflora – from 1843
- Lavender Lassie rose – Hybrid musk – from 1958
Other Sources for Heirloom Roses
Other online sources for old roses include: