What is a garden rose?

One of the most frequent questions that we receive is so simple in theory, but actually requires a longer answer: What is a garden rose? Everyone knows what a rose is, and could easily pick one out of a lineup of flowers, but did you know there are three main categories of roses? Wild Roses, Old Garden Roses, and Modern Roses. When you think of the red rose, sold at every bodega and flower shop, that is a modern rose, and they are grown commercially. Because they have been bred for large bloom size and prolonged vase life, they have almost no fragrance, and are typically heavily sprayed to maintain their "perfect" and uniform shape. 


Garden roses, on the other hand, were bred to provide beauty in a garden setting. Every stem is a bit different - if you buy 100 stems of the same variety, every bloom will be just a bit different, with slightly different ruffled petals and shading. That is the charm and romance of garden roses!  And then there is their fragrance, which can only be described as heavenly. Some garden roses have a light citrus scent, others smell deeply floral, while others have a sweet scent reminiscent of candy! The fragrance is strong both while in the garden and once cut, making it a characteristic that only enhances its vase appeal. 

Garden roses are meant to be cut when they are still tight, in their advanced bud form (similar to cutting a peony or ranunculus). Once open, garden roses typically drop their petals after 5 days. We leave the thorns on our roses because removing them can shorten their vase life. When you remove the thorns from a rose, it allows bacteria to get into the skin, and therefore shortens the life of a rose. 

Garden rose stems vary, which is especially important to note if you are designing with them. Some stand straight and erect, while others have softer, graceful, weeping stems. We include stem information in each of our rose variety write ups so that you can make an informed decision. For example, Jubilee Celebration has softer, weepier stems, which beautifully spill over the vase, while Distant Drums have thick, erect stems, and will stand up very straight in the vase. The beauty of garden roses lie in the uniqueness of each variety, right down to the stem type. 

Garden roses offer endless opportunities for arranging, and we are always discovering new varieties. Each variety offers its own unique characteristics; color, fragrance, form. There are just so many to love. So there's the short answer (and trust me, we have so much more to say) to the question of "what is a garden rose?!”

Gorgeous images by Ngoc Minh Ngo