by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian
When you see a rose, what is one of the first things you do? Take a sniff? That’s a pretty common response to roses. Yet, when you put your nose up close, you may find a trace of a fragrance, but often not a very strong one. There are a few reasons for that – first, it may be that the variety of rose does not produce much of a fragrance. It could also be the age of the bloom, the time of day, or the differences in our ability to detect certain smells.
Fragrance in flowers is associated with the attraction of pollinating insects, so that the genetic triggers for releasing fragrance are associated with the time of day and conditions that these normal pollinators are active. Substances detected primarily by human smell are generally soluble in oil. Fragrances are exuded from glands on the lower petal surfaces (and in some cases, leaf surfaces, as with R. eglanteria) and the bristly glands of the moss roses. Sunny, warm weather releases odors found in volatile plant oils. Humidity helps to prolong the smell because it reduces the rate of evaporation. Some of these compounds evaporate faster than others so that the fragrance of a rose can change as the bloom opens.
Much is said about modern roses having little to no fragrance – that certainly has not been my experience. There are many modern roses – of all types, that have intense fragrance, from the ever popular hybrid tea Sterling Silver, to the wonderfully lemony floribunda Sunsprite; the deep dark red Oklahoma ,and the sunset colors of Granada. The American Rose Society Awards Committee may present an award to an outstanding new fragrant variety. The James Alexander Gamble Award is presented to the hybridizer of the rose. Only eleven roses have been given this honor since its inception in 1961, and the latest to win the award was Angel Face in 2001.
Listed below are a couple dozen wonderfully fragrant roses. Many of these are planted in our new rose garden, so when you have some time, stop and smell the roses!
|Name||Type||Color||ARS Rating||Year Introduced|
|Celsiana||Damask||Light Pink||8.7||before 1867|
|New Dawn||Large-Flowered Climber||Light Pink||8.6||1930|
|Celestial||Alba||Light Pink||8.5||before 1797|
|Double Delight*||Hybrid Tea||Red Blend||8.4||1977|
|Erfurt||Hybrid Musk||Pink Blend||8.5||1939|
|Mr. Lincoln*||Hybrid Tea||Dark Red||8.4||1964|
|Mary Rose||Shrub||Medium Pink||8.3||1983|
|Buff Beauty||Hybrid Musk||Apricot Blend||8.2||1939|
|Sheila’s Perfume||Floribunda||Yellow Blend||8.2||1982|
|Fragrant Cloud*||Hybrid Tea||Orange-Red||8.1||1967|
|Beauty Secret||Miniature||Medium Red||8.0||1965|
|Granada*||Hybrid Tea||Red Blend||7.9||1963|
|Tiffany*||Hybrid Tea||Pink Blend||7.8||1954|
|Papa Meilland*||Hybrid Tea||Dark Red||7.7||1963|
* Awarded the James Alexander Gamble Award for Fragrance