15 Fragrant Roses

Our ability to perceive scent is one of the most powerful senses we possess, and it is closely tied to memory. By way of example, just a hint of cigar smoke instantly transforms me to the six-year-old incarnation of myself sitting in a large white sedan with a red interior surrounded by my dad, uncles, and grandpere…all of whom are smoking White Owls and laughing away in French. It was a sunny day and the windows were all rolled down, and although I didn’t understand a single word, the joy of the family reunion was obvious. It was and is one of those moments of my life that I can still recall in precise detail despite the passing years.


I see this same transformation occur while people are perusing the roses that we sell. Just one whiff of a scented hybrid tea evokes such comments as that brings me back to my grandmother’s garden or it smells just like that trip to Italy I took when I was young, followed immediately by a smile and that look of bliss. Roses are definitely back in vogue, yet what’s selling them these days is not their colour or disease resistance but their fragrance. So, I thought I’d share some of my favourite fragrant roses, overlooking the more obvious candidates such as ‘Mister Lincoln’, ‘Double Delight,’ or ‘Just Joey’ for some lesser-knowns.


‘Angel Face’
‘Angel Face’

‘Angel Face’ (Floribunda / 1969) The lavender-edged mauve semi-double blooms are beautiful enough by themselves, particularly when contrasted against the dark green foliage, but it is the sweet citrus fragrance that makes most people fall in love with this AARS (All American Rose Selection) winner. The flower colour will actually veer to a more lavender-blue colour during warmer summers and given its compact size (3’ tall), ‘Angel Face’ makes a great standard or tree rose.


‘Climbing America’
‘Climbing America’

‘Climbing America’ (Climber / 1976) Another AARS winner that was introduced for the US bicentennial. It bears abundant double blooms of salmon-pink throughout the summer, which will fill your garden with a spicy scent that bears a distinct hint of cloves. Individual flowers can be 4-5” wide. They're nicely showcased against a backdrop of leathery deep green, disease-resistant foliage.


‘Liebeszauber’
‘Liebeszauber’

‘Liebeszauber’ (Hybrid Tea / 1991) A classic hybrid tea rose with very full double blooms of a rich crimson-red held on long stems, making them ideal for cut flowers. This disease-resistant Kordes rose translates as ‘Love’s Magic.’ It won the 1994 Hague Fragrance Award for its strong, true rose scent.


‘Rock & Roll’
‘Rock & Roll’

‘Rock & Roll’ (Grandiflora / 2007) While the unique striped blossoms of burgundy, red, and white are a love-or-hate proposition, their sheer size (averaging 5” across) and fragrance wins most people over. This cross of ‘George Burns’ and ‘New Zealand’ lives up to its fragrant lineage with an enticing scent of strong rose with overtones of mouth-watering fruit.