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Award of Merit Article


by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian

In the words of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns,

    O my luve is like a red, red rose
    That’s newly sprung in June
    O my luve is like the melodie
    That’s sweetly played in tune.

or the 19th century poet John B O’Reilly,

    The red rose whispers of passion
    And the white rose breathes of love
    O the red rose is a falcon
    And the white rose is a dove.

Red roses have long been associated with love. It is hard to look at a deep red rose, and not have it provoke some strong emotion. Every garden should have one good red rose – whether to enjoy on your own or to give to someone special when you want to say “I love you.”

Red roses surely have to be at the top of the list of favorite roses – even with color fads that come and go, reds remain a perennial charmer. The American Rose Society has two categories of red colored roses - medium red and dark red. These span quite a range in color from very light red to nearly black. Many of the deep red roses have buds in that color range, then turn bluish as the bloom ages. In the heat of summer, the color can fade, and the blooms tend to bull nose more than other colors. All that said, there are lots of good choices to fill your garden, and your passion, with red roses.

One of the first really popular modern red hybrid teas was Chrysler Imperial, the 1953 AARS and 1965 James Alexander Gamble winner. It was (and still is) a bloom with classic flower form, deep velvety red color, and an intense, spicy fragrance. This rose was an offspring of Crimson Glory, introduced in 1935, and has been used in the development of a long list of prize-winning reds.

The list below includes two-dozen terrific red roses, from old garden roses, to musks, climbers and miniatures. In addition to these, I have reds that do really well in my garden, but fall a tad short of the 8.0 or higher ARS nationwide rating. One of the most scrumptious of these is Papa Meilland (dark red HT, 7.7), winner of both the James Alexander Gamble award for fragrance and the World Federation of Roses award in 1988. This rose produces huge flowers that are burgundy wine purple-red with a heavenly fragrance.

Ingrid Bergman (dark red HT, 7.7), is a really sturdy plant that is always covered with blooms. It is the winner of the World Federation of Roses Award in 2000, the only red other than Papa Meilland to win this prize. This rose is an offspring of Precious Platinum (dark red HT, 7.6), another steady performer that has spotless foliage and lots of bloom. Ingrid Bergman was used to produce Opening Night (dark red HT, 7.8), of the 1998 AARS winner, and very prolific rose.

Opening Night
On the darker side of red is Taboo (dark red HT, 7.3) – a tall, vigorous plant with deep purplish-green leaves, with buds that are nearly black, opening to a full, ruffled, dark red bloom. One of my favorite floribundas is a gorgeous deep, velvety red that is always in bloom, and rarely bothered by disease. Lilli Marlene has an ARS rating of 7.7; in my garden it would rate at least an 8.5! Armstrong Roses introduced two stunning red floribundas recently, City of San Francisco and City of San Diego. These are both really healthy, abundant bloomers with brilliant medium red flowers, and shiny green foliage.

If you don’t have one or more of these glorious red roses now, it’s time to add one!

Name Type Color ARS Rating Year Introduced
Old Red Moss Moss Medium Red 9.3 no date
Dortmund Hybrid Kordesii Medium Red 9.2 1955
Robusta Shrub Medium Red 9.0 1979
John Cabot Hybrid Kordesii Medium Red 8.9 1978
Roseraie de l'Hay Hybrid Rugosa Dark Red 8.8 1901
Travemunde Floribunda Medium Red 8.6 1968
Europeana Floribunda Dark Red 8.7 1968
Lavaglut Floribunda Dark Red 8.7 1978
Olympiad Hybrid Tea Medium Red 8.7 1982
Dublin Bay Large-Flowered Climber Medium Red 8.6 1975
Kardinal Medium Red Red Blend 8.6 1986
Robin Hood Hybrid Musk Medium Red 8.6 1927
Altissimo Large-Flowered Climber Medium Red 8.4 1966
Peggy P Miniature Medium Red 8.5 1988
Champlain Hybrid Kordesii Dark Red 8.4 1982
Mr Lincoln Hybrid Tea Dark Red 8.4 1964
Showbiz Floribunda Medium Red 8.4 1983
Red Ribbons Shrub Dark Red 8.3 1990
Don Juan Large Flowered-Climber Dark Red 8.2 1958
Geranium Hybrid Moyesii Medium Red 8.2 1938
Black Jade Miniature Dark Red 8.1 1985
La Belle Sultane Hybrid Gallica Dark Red 8.1 1795
Miss Flippins Miniature Medium Red 8.1 1997
Veteran's Honor Hybrid Tea Dark Red 8.1 1999

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Last Modified: 08/06/2013