‘Altissimo’ was bred in France by Georges Delbard and Andre Chabert in 1966 from a cross of a medium red, semi-double, large-flowered climber called ‘Tenor’ and an unnamed seedling. The team of Delbard and Chabert hybridized many other roses in France – the most famous here besides ‘Altissimo’ are the orange blend floribunda, ‘Gingersnap’, and the pink blend hybrid tea, ‘Royal Ascot’.
‘Altissimo’, meaning very high, is classified by the American Rose Society as a medium red large-flowered climber with a garden rating of 8.4. With stunning, blood-red, large velvety blooms of 7 petals, it is a true single (4 to 8 petals) that blooms continuously throughout the growing season. ‘Altissimo’, known also as ‘Altus’ and ‘Sublimely Single’, has stiff canes that grow 7-15 feet high which can be trained on a post or arch. ‘Altissimo’ sets hips easily and has ample pollen and is the parent of 9 registered roses – the most well-known are ‘Dublin Bay’ and the 1999 All-America Rose Selection winner, ‘Fourth of July’.
Disease resistant and vigorous, ‘Altissimo’ is widely available. While it was the top exhibition climber for many years, multiple wins of its descendant, ‘Fourth of July’, caused it to drop lower on the rose show circuit – still an amazing feat for a rose that has been around for more than 50 years!
By Gail Trimble, Master Rosarian
Edited for the website by Nanette Londeree, March 2020