The author has known people to wrinkle up their noses and say, “Old rose? Who would want an old rose?”, as if we were discussing an aged sheep or yesterday’s sandwich. These roses are not old in that way . . . They were simply developed “of old” . . . The breeding which produced them could have taken place in 1990 as easily as in 1890–but the eye which selected them as being desirable material was an eye trained in the aesthetics of another time. —Brent C. Dickerson, The Old Rose Advisor, Vol. I, 2nd ed. (Nebraska: Authors Choice Press, 2001)
Hanky Panky’s newest print for the summer, Vintage Rose, captures several of the qualities for which heirloom rose varieties are beloved by gardeners: a dense flower filled with petals; the rambling, open growth pattern of a shrub; and soft hues that easily combine with other plantings in the garden to create a harmonious whole.
“All my roses are heirlooms,” says my mother, an amateur gardener who designed, built and planted the cottage garden surrounding her fixer-upper Gothic Victorian home in Tarrytown, New York. “They are hardier and have beautiful scents,” she notes, and the soft colors and less formal shape of Old Rose bushes are simply “prettier in the garden.”
For one amateur gardener, collecting vintage gardening books, the best of which include stunning chromolithograph illustrations of flowers and plants, was a natural outgrowth of reading about heirloom roses. “I just like old fashioned things,” she said.For those of you prefer the long-stemmed, polished look of the modern rose, see Hanky Panky’s Thong Roses in Red, White and Very Berry.
If you live in an urban area or are otherwise still in the aspirational phase of your gardening career, there are public rose gardens currently in bloom. In the Tristate area, visit the the award-winning Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at The New York Botanical Garden, The Cranford Rose Garden at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or the Rose Garden at Lyndhurst, an historic mansion and estate in Tarrytown, New York.