Our favorite Parisian florist in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is Odorantes, where flowers are arranged by scent. Where better to turn for a list of the 10 most fragrant roses to grow this year?
Many of Odorantes’ favorites are old roses–thorny shrubs and stubborn climbers with blowsy blooms that look best when they’re past their prime and ready to drop their petals. Their histories can be traced across centuries, when their ancestors came from China and Persia.
We’ve rounded up sources to buy Odorantes’ favorites–plus a few of our own–to come up with a list of 10 fragrant garden roses:
Photography via Odorantes except where noted.
Sweet Briar Rose
Above: The five-petaled dog rose, or Rosa canina, is a shrubby wild rose that grows in hedgerows. There are nearly two dozens species. Eglanteria ‘Sweet Briar Rose’ has leaves that smell like apples; the scent was familiar to Shakespeare; $12.95 for a plant in a 4-inch pot from Annie’s Annuals.
Great Maiden’s Blush
Above: If you are looking for the exuberant ruffly rose called Cuisse de Nymphe Emue (which translates to “Thigh of the Passionate Nymph”), it is often called Great Maiden’s Blush in English.
A disease-free 8-foot climbing rose whose history can be traced back at least to 1400, it belongs to the Alba family. “The Albas, as a group, have the most refined perfumes of just about any of the European antiques and Great Maiden’s may just have the most refined fragrance of the class,” says Rogue Valley Roses, which offers Great Maiden’s Blush for $19.95 apiece.
The Lady Gardener
Above: An apricot rose with a strong fragrance is The Lady Gardener ($27.95), a very hardy medium shrub From David Austin’s English rose collection which will flower repeatedly during the course of a season.
Above: Photograph by K Yamada via Flickr.
‘Louise Odier’is a Bourbon bush rose with 4-inch blooms that are “blessed with exquisitely rich perfume.” It’s $40 from Heirloom Roses.
Above: Jacques Cartier is a hardy Portland shrub rose bred in 1868 that will grow to a diameter of 4 by 3 feet. It’s available from David Austin Roses that has a “very strong, rich fragrance” and is $26.95 apiece.
Old Blush Rose
Above: Photograph by A. Barra via Wikimedia.
A shrub rose that blooms repeatedly, Old Blush Rose has a sweet, fresh fragrance. A bare-root Old Blush Rose is $19.95 from The Antique Rose Emporium.
Madame Pierre Ogier
Above: ‘‘Madame Pierre Ogier’‘ is a strongly fragrant, medium size Bourbon shrub rose with silvery pink blooms; £15.50 from David Austin UK.
Above: Introduced in 1877, Mme. Gabriel Luizet may be grown either as a shrub or a short climber (and will reach a height of up to 8 feet). It is available seasonally for $19.95 from Rogue Valley Roses.
Madame Isaac Pereire
Above: Photograph by Rictor Norton and David Allen via Flickr.
‘‘Madame Isaac Pereire’‘ is a shrub rose bred by Garcon in 1881 and named after the wife of a Parisian banker; $19.95 from The Antique Rose Emporium.
Charles de Mills
Above: With a bloom color that can fluctuate from deep crimson to purple depending on growing conditions and light scent, ‘Charles de Mills’ is a Gallica shrub rose introduced in the late 18th century; £15.50 from David Austin UK.
Old roses are often used in potpourri and for culinary purposes. Their petals make delicious teas, syrups, and cakes. For some of our favorite recipes and DIY ideas, see: