Tea Roses and the Landscape
Unique Colors, Classic Form, Repeat Bloom
Roses are among the most versatile and valuable of all plants for the landscape. There are roses that can fit into everyone's garden. Several are very winter hardy, mostly the European old garden roses, such as the gallicas, damasks, albas, etc. There is even a species rose that grows near the Arctic Circle. Roses will even grow in the hot tropics although this is not the best of climates.
So what do you want in a landscape? Roses will give you a lot of bloom either year round in some climates or big flushes in the spring. The best landscape plants are stand-alone that are fully clothed with foliage. Many of the hybrid teas are tall, lanky plants that are clothed on the top, often with bare bottoms. When I want to use a rose in the landscape, I think of floribundas or polyanthas for hedges, and either a tea rose or china rose for a stand-alone focal point. These need to be round, mounding, fully clothed, and in our mild year-round climate, a good bloomer. The floribunda Iceberg is probably the best all around landscape rose in the world. Personally, I love the large mound of the china rose Mutabilis, where it blooms year round here, and with the various colors that it changes, from yellow to pink to red, it earns its name of the "butterfly bush."
Along with chinas, tea roses are ideal landscape roses in the milder climates. Although some tea roses can be grown in the colder climates, up to Zone 5, they need a lot of protection or be grown against a wall of the house. But for the southern United States, tea roses are ideal for the landscape.
Tea roses came from China around 1824. The first introduced tea rose was Park's Yellow Tea-scented Rose. It is alleged that tea roses were so named because their scent reminds people of the smell of tea chests. Others believe they were named for the nursery that supplied them, Fa Tee. There were other introduced tea roses and hybridizers soon started to use them in their breeding programs. The tea roses eventually evolved into the hybrid tea class by crossing other classes of roses such as hybrid perpetuals. Tea roses were known for their unique colors, large blooms, weak necks on some, classic spiral form, and excellent repeat bloom. They are generally larger plants, often from 3-6 feet. Tea roses also are known for their very full blooms when they open. They are generally disease free. Fragrance is generally mild for most tea roses, but there are some strong fragrances as well.
Tea roses are ideal for the southern United States gardens. They range from the small plants to large climbers. In my yard, I have some focal points in rose beds where I have used tea roses. My two favorites are Mme Antoine Mari and Rosette Delizy. In the front yard, Mme Antoine Mari makes a nice seven-foot round mound that is 5-feet high, and is clothed all the way to the ground, and is rarely without bloom. I love the light and dark pink blooms with classic tea form. In another bed, Rosette Delizy makes a somewhat taller mound and not as wide, say six feet tall by six feet wide. The blooms come in shades of yellows, creams and red. The heavily- petalled blooms seem to last forever! A good cut flower, the plant is rarely out of bloom.
There are other excellent tea roses that will do well in the landscape. For excellent stand-alone specimens, try the reddish blooms of Mons. Tillier, or the pink blooms of the very popular teas Mrs. B. R. Cant, Mme Lombard and Duchesse be Brabant. Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt always placed a bloom of Duchesse de Brabant in his lapel? For a pale yellow, nothing beats Etoile de Lyon and Perle des Jardins. Etoile may not open well near the coastal areas.
Tea roses come in all sizes and shapes. There are some excellent climbers. Sombreuil is listed as a climbing tea rose, however, the rose sold as Sombreuil is not the real plant. But do we care? Not really; the rose sold as Sombreuil is one of the most popular of all climbing roses. It has very full, white blooms on a vigorous plant. They have a nice fragrance and excellent repeat. Good plant for arbors and walls. It's also more winter hardy than most teas. When people think of climbing roses, the climbing tea Gloire de Dijon often comes to mind. A good climbing plant for arbors that produces yellow blend blooms most of the year.
The old rose purist may balk, but several can be grown in pots or make a small plant for the landscape. For a small plant, nothing beats the deep red, super fragrant Francis Dubreuil. Another small tea is the very popular Lady Hillingdon. This rose with yellow blooms comes in a plant and climbing version. One of my other favorite small teas is Souvenir d'un Ami. This tea has multi-colored pink blend blooms with classic tea form. Good in the landscape or in a pot.
Because of the wide variety of colors, sizes, and good bloom, tea roses have been established as good plants for any landscape.
© Copyright Steve Jones. All rights reserved.
This article is an ARS Award of Merit Winner, originally published in "Rose Ecstasy," bulletin of Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, Kitty Belendez, Editor.
Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez
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