The rose industry as we know it was invented by the French from about 1815 onwards. French breeders and growers produced a strong stream of new roses of every type throughout the 19th century. The industry quickly became driven by novelty, and has remained the creature of fashion ever since.
During the 1970s, the frontier between the larger miniature roses (larger in flower size and height) and the smaller Floribundas seemed to merge; the intermediates are now sometimes lumped together as patio roses.
A bush-rose throws out a shoot that is much taller than the rest of the bush and produces no flowers until the following year. These sports are sometimes noticed, propagated, and introduced as a “climbing” form of the original bush-rose. The first were climbing Chinas and climbing Teas: examples are ‘Climbing Pompon de Paris’ and ‘Climbing Devoniensis’.
During the 19th century these sports appeared from time to time among other hybrid groups with China roses and Tea roses in their ancestry – hence climbing Bourbons and climbing Hybrid Pcrpetuals. Later came climbing Polvanthas, climbing Hybrid Teas (`Climbing Peace’), climbing Floribundas (`Climbing Iceberg’), climbing Grandifloras, and even climbing miniatures.
Any rose raised in the last 100 years that does not fit neatly into a defined category is called a shrub rose. This includes primary hybrids like (Dupontir, over-large Floribundas like ‘Fred Loads’ and most of the super-hardy Buck, Explorer, and Parkland roses.
Many modern climbers (or “large-flowered” climbers) were bred by crossing the larger-flowered ‘Wichurana ramblers like ‘New Dawn’ with modern Floribundas and Hybrid Teas. The best seedlings would have large flowers, a climbing habit, and non-stop flowers: ‘Parade’ is a good example. Other climbers were selected from unusually vigorous seedlings of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas – those that grew to 3m or more, and flowered continuously.
The best were bred by Wilhelm Kordes in the 1930s and 1940s – (Frilhlingsmorgen) and `Karl Forster’ in particular. By far the most famous shrub roses now are the English Roses bred by David Austin over the past 25 years. These are intended to combine the best of the old roses (Damask scent, complex blooms) with the best of the new (health, vigour, thick petals, repeat-flowering).
Some modern climbers were bred for specific purposes with new genes from little-used species: the Kordesii hybrids like Tarkdirekcor Riggers’ were bred for hardiness and the Hybrid Giganteas like ‘Nancy Hayward’ for their adaptability to hot climates.
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