About Portland Roses
By H. Scott Hansen

Portland roses are another of the Old Garden Roses that repeat bloom. Along with the Chinas, Teas, Noisettes, Bourbons, Hybrid Perpetuals, and a few others they help dispel the popular notion that OGRs are only once-a-year bloomers.

Portland roses apparently originated from natural crosses between Damasks and Chinas. Autumn Damask and Slater's Crimson China are reputed to be the parents of the first Portland found near Paestum, Italy.

The progenitor, Duchess of Portland, also known as Portland Rose, is dated about 1800 and is red. This rose was taken to England and France where hybridizers pounced upon it and produced many more. The Portlands were very popular in the mid 19th century before the advent of the Hybrid Perpetuals and they are still popular among OGR enthusiasts.

They are important in the development of modern roses as they, along with the Bourbons and Hybrid Chinas fathered the Hybrid Perpetuals, the parents of our modern Hybrid Teas. Indeed, Rose du Roi, an outstanding red Portland, is said to be the progenitor of the first and many more Hybrid Perpetuals.

At one time there were some 150 varieties of Portland roses. Today there are only 16 listed in Modern Roses 8 and 9, but there are about a half-dozen more varieties that could possibly be classed as Portlands. There are no climbing types.

Portland roses are vigorous growers for the most part but do not get unduly large as a general rule; they are a nice garden size. 

Their distinguishing characteristic is the blooms "on the shoulder," that is, blooms with extremely short stems between the bloom and the first foliage. The blooms seem to rest on the foliage.

The range in color from white to pink to red to purple with no yellows or oranges. 

Some of the more well known and popular that have come down to us are: 

Arthur de Sansal. Cochet, 1855. Very double, rich crimson-purple, and like a Damask.

Bernard (Pompon Perpetual), 1846). A sport of Rose du Roi with salmon-pink flowers.

Blanc de Vibert. Vibert, 1847. Quite double, white with light green foliage. Not dependably recurrent.

Comte de Chambord. Moreau-Robert, 1863. Very full, flat, very fragrant, pink tinted lilac and with erect growth.

Coeline Dubos. Dubos, 1849. Bright pink and somewhat recurrent.  Listed as a Damask in Modern Roses 9, some sources class it as a Portland.

Palmyre. Laffay, 1844.  Pale pink, often repeats. Damask in Modern Roses 8 with the note, "Portland type."

Pergolese. Robert et Moreau, 1860. Bright purplish crimson, shading to lilac; very full, medium size, fragrant and somewhat recurrent.

Rembrandt.  Moreau-Robert, 1883.  Scarlet-red, even described as vermillion. This is unusual for any OGR.

Rose de Roi. Lelieur; Souchet, 1815. Bright red shaded violet, semi-double, large bloom, very fragrant, vigorous and quite recurrent.  One of the earliest and still one of the best and most popular of the Portlands.

Rose de Roi Panache.  A sport of Rose de Roi, pink striped red showing that Portland roses too can be varied.

I can personally vouch for Rose du Roi and Comte de Chambord which have done well for me. They can both be candidates for Dowager Queen if you are into exhibiting.

In 1992, H. Scott Hansen, the author of this article, gave a disk full of his articles to Kitty Belendez with permission to publish them. H. Scott Hansen is now deceased.


© Copyright Estate of H. Scott Hansen. All rights reserved.
Updated January 1, 2016

'Comte de Chambord' Portland Rose
'Rose du Roi' Portland Rose
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