Floral Life: Devoted to the Flower Garden and the Home, 2: 71-72 (1904)
Old Homestead Roses
Mrs. G. T. Drennan

THE hundred-leaf and cinnamon roses, so currently referred to as "the favorites of our grandmother's days," are not the old homestead roses that I remember.

Dating back to the fifties, I remember the roses distinctly. They grew in the 35th degree of latitude, and always in the garden.

As a rose amateur I feel a delight in bringing to notice the old homestead roses. I knew them then, and know them now, as very fine flowers. With but few exceptions they are still on all lists of choice roses. The one that has been lost to culture has left so many distinguished descendants among ever-blooming tea roses that it is not regretted. The offspring are all better than the parent rose, which was simply the "white tea." Rosa Indica, from the first semi-double pink specimen introduced in 1820, had been multiplied to ten varieties during the twenties.

*Alba Rosea?

Rosa alba,* always in bloom, sweet and pretty, was one of the choicest flowers of the garden then.

Niphetos, from 1844, was one of the wonders of the times. It was extravagantly admired:

The peculiar, elongated, Niphetos rose-bud is chaste and elegant. No other rose produces such ideal, pure white buds. It is to the loveliness of the rose-buds that Niphetos owes its popularity. The open rose is of little consequence, and the bush is not of luxuriant growth, but the beauty of the buds redeems all deficiencies. Then Cornelia Cook came to be a great favorite. It was not liked at first, as the peculiarity of requiring age before blooming was not understood. The bush is lush in growth, and of very graceful form. The foliage is bright green, rich and luxuriant. Without a flower at all, Cornelia Cook is handsome. The beautiful, promising bushes will obstinately stand for the second year without a rose. Then the florescence begins, and from the third year on, for twenty years and more, the large, double, camellia-like roses, in bridal white, are borne in great profusion. Cornelia Cook blooms incessantly from spring to fall.

Zelia Pradel is a champion. It is a half climber, blooming in clusters, and the buds are exquisite; the open roses perfect, in ivory white. This is one of the dearest, the sweetest and loveliest, of the old homestead roses. Perpetual white was the favorite moss rose. It blooms as constantly as the best of the teas, and is decidedly more hardy.

Hermosa was popular. It was considered a treasure, so free, so hardy and so pretty, in its pink dress.

Malmaison was the only Bourbon I remember, so far back. It bloomed as freely as the tea roses and was as hardy as the hybrid perpetuals. The maiden's-blush, or flesh-color, of this old but ever new and beautiful rose was unlike any other ever-blooming rose. My object is to call attention, affectionately, to the some one good point that each of these old roses possesses.

For instance, Isabella Sprunt is but semi-double when full blown. The buds are beautiful canary yellow, of moderate dimensions, and very well formed. Over and above all, it is a winter-blooming rose. In that respect it has no equal among the roses I know, and their name is legion. Time was, that La Pactole was thought to bloom in winter as freely as Isabella Sprunt, but nobody thinks so now. It is the only ever-blooming rose that I would recommend to amateurs for forcing. It will bloom in a temperature of 70 degrees. As a rule, amateurs had better fill their windows and hot houses with any other plants than roses. They are difficult winter bloomers except for florists, or amateurs able to employ skillful gardeners, and to have regular rose houses.

Then Safrano, noted for the indescribable beauty of the color of its buds, is the hardiest of all the Tea roses. In appearance the apricot, mauve-tinted buds are dainty and the rose bush is not robust, yet Safrano will grow for years on the north side of the house and in other unfavorable positions, where other tea roses would perish. I grew one on a shaded side of a bay window, facing the north, and while the flowers were not as abundant as in a better place, the rose never failed. That Safrano is living yet and is twenty-five years old. It grows in Central Mississippi where the rotation of the seasons is so distinctly marked that the thermometer frequently drops to zero.

Souvenir d'un Ami, in bright pink, graced many a gay and richly perfumed old homestead garden. Among its many excellencies is one in particular. That is the ease and readiness with which it roots from cuttings, and the early stage at which it blooms. The buds will be vigorous from the very first, and the new bush will bloom on and on, every day of the whole season. Commend me to Souvenir d'un Ami for a handsome pink tea, with nothing to be said on the negative side.

Agrippina and Queen's Scarlet were flamboyant in blood-red roses. They were purely decorative garden roses, very free flowering all summer and until the verge of winter. Neither of them were much cared for among cut roses.

*Triomphe de Luxembourg

The great masterpiece among the early tea roses was the Triumph of Luxemburg.* Every garden had a Luxemburg rose. No later introductions have surpassed this magnificent ever-blooming rose, to my mind.

In magnitude, the reddish-green foliage and long, clean stems; the immense size and great substance of the buds, place the Luxemburg, by resemblance with the hybrid teas, that were not then in existence. No other tea rose ever had its substance and queenly proportions. Bridesmaid comes nearer the old Luxemburg than any modern rose, except perhaps, the new and very fine Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt. They are, however, to me, like the replica of some work of art, but not the masterpiece, its own, old self.