Tag Archives: fragrant roses

Roses of Reunion for Gloucester Gardens

Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’ ©Kim Smith 2015

‘Variegata di Bologna’

With Reunion so much in the news, I thought readers might be interested to learn that Reunion is home to some of the most highly scented roses in the world, the Bourbon roses. Bourbon roses grow very well in Gloucester gardens and have the wonderful combined qualities of fabulous fragrance and repeat blooming. I wrote a bit about them in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities (see chapter 14). Bourbon roses are so named because Reunion was formerly called Isle de Bourbon.

Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! 

A sepal, a petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flash of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—
A caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!

Emily Dickinson

Rosa bourboniana

The Bourbon roses (Rosa bourboniana) comprise one of the most extravagantly scented class of roses, along with having a wide range of growth habit in form and height. From the shrubby and compact ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison,’ growing to about two feet, to the thornless climbing ‘Zephirine Drouhin,’ there is a suitable Bourbon rose available to fill nearly every conceivable desired effect in the landscape.

Named for the island of Reunion, formerly called Isle de Bourbon, Rosa bourboniana is a natural crossing of the China rose (repeat blooming) with the Autumn Damask rose. Reunion belongs to the archipelago of Mascareignes in the Indian Ocean and lies east of Madagascar. Originally discovered by the Portuguese, then colonized by the French in the seventeenth-century, Reunion had a diverse population of settlers from around Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. The Bourbon rose was discovered growing wild in Reunion in approximately 1817.

Hybridized Bourbon roses flower in hues of white to china pink to cerise and purple. The flowers are quartered at the center and filled with overlapping petals. With their sublime fragrance, tolerance for cold temperatures, and freedom of flowering (‘Louise Odier’ remains in bloom from June until the first frost), Bourbons are amongst the most distinctive of all roses.

The following is a list of Bourbon roses successfully growing in our garden, along with one failure noted.

‘Louise Odier’ ~ 1851 ~ Bourbon ~ Delicate china pink, camellia-style flowers, enchanting and intensely fragrant. Blooms lavishly throughout the season, from early June to November, with a brief rest after the first flush of June flowers. Grows four to five feet.

‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ ~ 1868 ~ Bourbon ~ Clear hot pink. Thornless. The sensuous Bourbon fragrance is there, only not as intense relative to some others noted here. Repeat blooms. Twelve feet.

‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ ~ 1881 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep raspberry-magenta. Considered to be one of the most fragrant roses. Six to seven feet. Note: We no longer grow Madame Isaac Pereire as its buds usually turned into brown, blobby globs that rarely fully opened due to damp sea air.

‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau’ ~ 1890 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep rose pink, richly fragrant and consistently in bloom through October and into November. Pairs beautifully with Louise Odier. Four to five feet.

‘Variegata di Bologna’ ~ 1909 ~ Bourbon ~ Creamy pale pink with rose-red striations. Suffused with the heady Bourbon fragrance. The foliage becomes tattered-looking later in the season. Slight repeat bloom, although it initially flowers for an extended period of time, four to six weeks in all. Tall growing, best supported against a pillar.

‘Souvenir de Saint Anne’s’ ~ 1916 ~ Bourbon ~ Ivory flushed with warm pink and cream single to semi-double blossoms. Sensuous Bourbon fragrance. Compact growing, ideal for the garden room. Continually blooming. Two feet. Note: ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’ is a sport of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (1843), with the similar lovely colorway. The unopened buds and blooms of ‘Malmaison’ have the tendency to be ruined in damp air, whereas ‘St. Anne’s’ do not.Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’  Gloucester Garden ©Kim Smith 2015Tips for improved rose culture:

Read more

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden

At this time of year, with the holidays knocking at our doors and the scramble for gift ideas beginning, I try to remember to post excerpts and information about my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden (which I both wrote and illustrated), and “The Pollinator Garden” lecture that I gave last evening in Pepperel reminded me to do so again this year. My publisher, Mr. Godine, always thanks me for this endeavor!

We sold a good stack of books last night and I was so appreciative for the opportunity to present my program to an interested audience engaged in learning more about the connection between what we plant and the pollinators we invite to our gardens. Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! speaks to both the greater and smaller concepts in garden-making and is a how-to design tutorial that covers the gamut from creating the framework to what to plant to attract the tiniest of butterflies. The design concepts are universal, and although set in Gloucester, Oh Garden makes for a thoughtful gift for anyone on your holiday gift-giving list!

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! sells for only $14.00 on Amazon, which is a $21.00 value off the publisher’s list price of $35.00.

Click here to purchase a copy of Oh Garden.

Front Door Cosmos Kitty ©Kim Smith 2009

From my book’s introduction ~

We all carry within us the image of a home to create and a garden to tend. Perhaps you dream, as I do, of a welcoming haven to foster family bonds and friendships and to rejoice in life’s journey. The garden and the home to which it belongs becomes a memory catcher to weave a life’s tapestry.

To imagine a garden paradise, one must live in one’s home and listen to its own particular music. Gradually, by degrees, the idea of the garden will grow. A home and a garden should look as though they had grown up together and will, when one takes the time and necessary thought. A garden cannot be hurriedly created. Delicious, blissful pleasure is derived from the garden’s use as a continuation of the home.

Our gardens provide a safe harbor from hectic lives, a place to celebrate life and an opportunity to express our creativity. The garden is an inviting sanctuary to guide one through the rhythms and harmonies of the natural world. Planted to nurture the imagination and hearten the soul, a “new” cottage garden is a whimsical, exuberant intermingling of scented flowers and foliage, fresh fruit, and savory herbs.

As a designer, I believe I am here to channel ideas for the benefit of many. This book is my communication of a profound desire to share with readers the immeasurable joy gleaned from creating a personal paradise of one’s own making.

The illustrations are of flowers, songbirds, and butterflies I love to draw and to paint, and selected because they only become more beautiful when intimately observed.

A poetic world lies waiting to be discovered. Let us open the garden gate and take a step within.