The Three Most Popular Scents of Roses
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The Three Most Popular Scents of Roses

Roses are known both for their classic beauty and fragrance. Although not all roses have scents, there are still many of these perfumed beauties around ranging from the deepest red to purest white. Different fragrances abound, too—both exotic and familiar. However, among the various scents of roses, there are three that stand out: old rose, fruit, and tea.

Roses are known both for their classic beauty and fragrance. Although not all roses have scents, there are still many of these perfumed beauties around ranging from the deepest red to purest white. Different fragrances abound, too—both exotic and familiar. However, among the various scents of roses, there are three that stand out: old rose, fruit, and tea.

Old Rose Scent

Madame Hardy image source

To many, this fragrance may be the headiest rose scent of all, coming down to us from the original damask roses that flourished in the Roman Empire. One of the best ways to enjoy this evocative aroma is to grow Madame Hardy, a white damask rose that blooms only once a season, but does so with reckless abandon. In a three- or four-week period, this beauty produces as many flowers as a hybrid tea will bear over a long summer. Each individual blossom has so many petals, tucked into a cup shape that they must stand straight up, flattened against each other. Perhaps because Madame Hardy has such abundant petals and flowers, her perfume beckons from yards and yards away. Although the Madame Hardy has a one-time habit, it is nevertheless dazzling, giving so much all at once.

  Mister Lincoln image source

Gertrude Jekyll image source

The old rose fragrance can also be found in many modern recurrent bloomers as well, like in the pink Gertrude Jeckyll, the reds Mister Lincoln, the Squire, and Don Juan to name a few.

Fruity Fragrance

Madame Isaac Pereire image source

It is easiest to describe a scent when it can be compared to something familiar. This explains why fruity fragrances are so commonly ascribed to many roses. Madame Isaac Pereire is often said to be one of the most fragrant roses, which recalls raspberries as do Cerise Bouquet and Hawaii. The scent of apples can be recognized in Gold Medal and New Dawn; Buff Beauty resembles a pineapple-banana combination. Among the new English roses –hybrids that combine old rose scent and form with modern repeat flowering and disease resistance—many have fruity fragrances, including salmon-pink Lilian Austin, the red Othello and Yellow Charles Austin.

  Gold Medal image source

Tea Aroma

Blush Noisette image source

Tea fragrance, while noted by all experts, is controversial. Some rose enthusiasts contend the scent smells like the wooden crates carrying tea imported from the Orient to Europe. Others say the idea grew out of the coincidence of early roses arriving on the same boats that brought the tea. Peter Beales, who is recognized as the English authority on old roses, writes of these roses that he has “yet to detect any real resemblance to the scent of tea.” Be that as it may, there is a distinct scent—which seems sweet with a light pungent punch – categorized as a “tea fragrance” by rose enthusiasts. To learn to distinguish it, you’ll just have to smell a lot of roses. A few to sniff are the yellow shrub rose Graham Thomas and climber Golden Showers, the white shrub Blush Noisette, the climber Gloire de Dijon and orange-red Fragrant Cloud.

Graham Thomas image source

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Comments (2)

I really can't imagine a rose scent I didn't like

Pat Anderson

Another strongly-scented rose with very old-rose smell is Brother Caedfile, another David Austin rose. Beautiful as well as very fragrant. Picture here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digiteyes/2601086387/in/set-72157605753842948/

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