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Choosing Fragrant Rose Varieties for Your Garden

Because fragrance is a great selling point, mail-order rose catalog descriptions never keep fragrant rose varieties a secret. To further narrow your choices, you can always look for those that have been awarded the American Rose Society’s James Alexander Gamble Rose Fragrance Award.

To win this prestigious award, a nominee must not only be fragrant, it must also possess a number of other attributes, including vigor, pest- and disease-resistance, form, substance, color, and extreme popularity for more than five years. These qualities, of course, make any rose wonderful, which is why all the Gamble Award winners, even though they have a little age on ’em, should still be readily available at your local garden center.

The following list includes all the roses ever to have won the prestigious Gamble Fragrance Award:

  • 1961: ‘Crimson Glory’, red hybrid tea

  • 1962: ‘Tiffany’, pink and yellow blend hybrid tea

  • 1965: ‘Chrysler Imperial’, red hybrid tea

  • 1966: ‘Sutter’s Gold’, orange-yellow hybrid tea

  • 1968: ‘Granada’, red multicolored hybrid tea

  • 1970: ‘Fragrant Cloud’, orange-red hybrid tea

  • 1974: ‘Papa Meilland’, red hybrid tea

  • 1979: ‘Sunsprite’, yellow floribunda

  • 1986: ‘Double Delight’, red and white bicolored hybrid tea

  • 1997: ‘Fragrant Hour’, orange-pink hybrid tea

  • 2001: ‘Angel Face’, lavender floribunda

  • 2002: ‘Secret’, pink and creamy yellow hybrid tea

  • 2003: ‘Mister Lincoln’, red hybrid tea

  • 2005: ‘Sheila's Perfume’, creamy-yellow and pink floribunda

  • 2007: ‘Fragrant Plum’, lavender hybrid tea

  • 2008: ‘Sweet Chariot’, pink-purple miniature

You may have noticed that most of these roses are hybrid teas. Many hybrid teas don’t have strong fragrance. But isn’t it also interesting that some of the most fragrant roses are hybrid teas? What a wacky world.

Some favorite fragrant old garden roses are the following:

  • ‘Alfred de Dalmas’: Light pink moss

  • ‘Ispahan’: Medium pink damask

  • ‘Mme. Hardy’: White damask

  • Rosa gallica officinalis: Light crimson gallica

  • ‘Sombreuil’: White tea

But don’t for one moment believe that a whole bunch of newer roses aren’t fragrant and great plants, too. The following varieties are readily available and wonderfully fragrant:

  • ‘Melody ParfumŽe’: Plum grandiflora

  • ‘Fragrant Plum’: Mauve grandiflora

  • ‘Scentimental’: Red-and-white-striped floribunda

  • ‘Scentsational’: Pink and mauve miniature

  • ‘Secret’: Pink and white hybrid tea

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