All about Roses with Larry “The Rose Guy”

With the coming of warmer weather, I’m sure that you are looking forward to getting back into your roses. I, for one, am chomping at the bit. If you love roses, there’s a very good chance that their fragrance is one of your favorite things about them. I know that is very true for me, so I thought you might be interested in a brief history about the fragrance in roses. 

David Austin® roses have been crossed with several types of other varieties to get the best fragrance including Old Garden Roses, English Musk Roses, and Alba Rose Hybrids. The Old Garden Roses are primarily responsible for the wonderful fragrance. The Albas are responsible for the repeat blooming. The previous class is important because most of the Old Garden Roses are single blooming. Crabtree and Evelyn is a high end British cosmetic company that uses the rose oil from David Austin® roses.

There are several other types of roses that yield wonderful fragrances. In the hybrid teas you have Sheila’s Perfume and Sugar Moon. I have won several most fragrant awards with Sugar Moon. Julia Child is a great, free flowering, fragrant Floribunda. Twilight Zone is a deep purple, very fragrant Grandiflora. So, basically, fragrant roses come in all varieties and colors.

It’s great to wander by your rose beds and sample all the different types of fragrances; old rose, tea rose, citrus, honeysuckle, myrrh, almond, spice, clove, and even licorice.

Rose experts have commented that roses release their most intense fragrance when the blossoms are half open. In the morning, while a slight touch of dewy moisture lingers on the petals, the warming effect of early sun will encourage the release of fragrant oils from the petals and, occasionally, the leaves. Hot sun, rain, wind, and high humidity can really work against fragrance.

Rose fragrance is exuded from glands on the lower petal surfaces, and its amount is limited by both the variety of the rose and by climate conditions. Sun and warmth are needed for maximum production. Check it out. Roses are never as fragrant on a cloudy day as on a sunny one.

A small reminder to think about pruning in early April. Pruning should be done when the Forsythia blooms or tax time (April 15th) if the Forsythia blooms early due to warmer weather.

Have a rose question? Larry can be reached at

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