What makes a garden rose a good cutting rose? Is it simply a long life span in a vase, or should the plant’s growth habit, its posture and poise, be considered too? Or is a good rose to arrange simply a beautiful rose? One you can marvel at and then be pulled in to sniff—a real rose, with a strong scent?
To answer these questions, I went to Carpinteria, California, in winter—not an ideal time for roses, even in southern California, but there I discovered that there is a particular charm to the last roses of the season, with their air of faded glamour. I visited Rose Story Farm, a boutique grower focusing on old-fashioned varieties, mainly English and French roses and early American cultivars.
Operated by Danielle Dall’Armi and her husband, Bill Hahn, Rose Story ships blooms to floral designers throughout the US. Over the past 20 years Danielle has learned what makes a rose great for cutting. Here are some of her favorites.
Photography and styling by Christin Geall.
‘Madame Paule Massad’
A disease-resistant cultivar, ‘Madame Paule Massad’ is a modern shrub rose with a sweet scent.
“I look for great vase life,” Danielle says. “But I’m also looking for beautiful roses that bear many blooms per stem. ‘Sally Holmes’ has large sprays of single blooms which open from apricot buds. If picked at the right time, the buds continue to open.”
‘Climbing Shot Silk’
At Rose Story Farm, ‘Climbing Shot Silk’ is grown along a fence. Plants reach heights of about nine feet and bloom throughout the growing season, making them a great choice for covering a garden arch.
Another of Danielle’s favorites is the apricot-pink rose ‘Paul Bocuse’, named after the French chef. Apparently he was a hunting companion of breeder Guillot, who gave the name to this high-performing plant. “The blooms are in little groups at the end of each stem,” she says. “We have designers who hoard these.”
Another pick, the heat-tolerant floribunda ‘Julia Child’ rose, naturally blooms in a buttery yellow.
In the color range of pink-lavender-brown, the popular ‘Koko Loco’, ‘Neptune’, and ‘Distant Drums’ made Danielle’s list. As I assembled these flowers for a picture, she ran out with her secateurs to grab the “perfect’”complement, a beautiful small-flowered rose called ‘Florence Delattre’. For a true rosarian, one might never have enough roses for cutting.
When it comes to planning a rose garden, nothing beats seeing a rose growing yourself. Thankfully Rose Story Farm offers tours in season. Visit their website for more information.
The rose is the most widely loved flower—both in garden beds and in bouquets—and much of the woody perennial’s popularity is due to its wide variety. There is a rose for you. With more than 100 species and thousands of cultivars, Rosa comes in many variations to suit: climbers, shrubs, ramblers, floribundas, and hybrids. See more of our favorites in Roses: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.