One of the least common colors to see in most rose gardens is purple – in any of its forms, from very pale lavender to dark, grapey purple. It is a shame, since there are many wonderful roses that cross this color range. A number of the popular roses that fall into this color category are also very fragrant. Have you ever sniffed the intense citrus fragrance of ‘Intrigue’, the velvety deep purple floribunda? Or inhaled the potent scent from ‘Barbara Streisand’? How about the perfume of ‘Angel Face’, the mauve, ruffled floribunda? And of course, one of the roses that many people plant as their first rose, ‘Sterling Silver’, is very fragrant, though keep in mind this rose has an American Rose Society (ARS) rating of 4.5!
One of the curious things about the purple roses that are in commerce is that they are all classified by the America Rose Society as mauve or mauve blend. For some reason, the name “mauve” doesn’t sound very “purple” to me. It also doesn’t seem to describe the range of color from pale lavender to deep purple.
Many of the highly rated roses in this color class are hybrid Gallicas that date back to the nineteenth century. There is surely a purple rose to fit just about any taste – both in size and color, from huge climbers like ‘Veilchenblau’ to the dainty ‘Sweet Chariot’. The list below contains a baker’s dozen purple roses that have an ARS rating of 8.0 or higher.
|Name||Type||Color||ARS Rating||Year Introduced|
|Alain Blanchard||Hybrid Gallica||Mauve||8.5||1839|
|Reine des Violettes||Hybrid Perpetual||Mauve||8.2||1860|
|Lavender Lassie||Hybrid Musk||Mauve||8.1||1960|
|Belle de Crecy||Hybrid Gallica||Mauve||8.0||1829|
By Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian
Rose photos from top: ‘Lavender Dream’, ‘Sweet Chariot’; all photos by the author
Updated December 2019