Heirloom Roses at the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum

by Philippe Faucon 4/3/2001

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a very interesting botanical garden, located about 40 miles east of Phoenix, on US route 60.  It has a quantity of trees, succulents, cacti, and plants from arid areas of planet.  It is at a higher elevation than Phoenix, and is somewhat cooler, which makes it a nice day trip at the end of the spring.

Among its many treasures is a collection of heirloom roses, in the half shade of some of the many trees, next to the succulent greenhouse.  A lot of them start blooming now, in April, a week or two later than in Phoenix, due to the difference in temperature.  I tried to capture them on film, although this doesn't do them justice, particularly considering that one of their attractions is their delightful fragrance.

For those of you who wonder, Arizona climate is good to roses.  They tend not to get as many fungal diseases as in many part of the world.  They also do well with an alkaline soil, and bear the heat.  You might want to protect them from to much sun, particularly from the afternoon sun, and water them regularly.  There are rose societies all around the world, with several in Phoenix.  They are a good places to trade cuttings and growing tips.  If you are looking for one, the American Rose Society site is a good place to start.

"Old Blush"
This is a China rose cultivated since the end of the 18th century.  It has loose, semi-double flowers that turn darker as they age.  It blooms from spring to fall, but the flowers have little fragrance.  It has an upright habit, 4 feet tall or more (1.2 m).  This rose is in the parentage of many modern roses.
Hardy in zone 6-11

"Monsieur Tillier"
This is a hybrid tea rose bred in France at the end of the 19th century.  It blooms mostly in spring and fall.  The flowers are very fragrant, with a center that contains more orange than the outside petals.  It is an upright bush, up to 5 feet tall and wide (1.5 m x 1.5 m)

"Marie Paviť"
Polyantha rose developed at the end of the 19th century in France.  It is almost everblooming.  It has large quantities of  light pink flowers, with darker center an yellow stamens.  The flowers are semi-double with a good scent.  The stems are nearly thornless.
Hardy in zone 5-11

"Bubble Bath"
Hybrid Musk developed in 1980.  It is a large-flowered climber, reaching a height of over 8 feet (2.4 m).  It is a shade tolerant rose with a great scent.
Hardy in zone 7-11

"Old Gay Hill Red China"
China rose.  This rose is a "found" rose, which means that no one knows its lineage.  It grows up to around 4 feet tall (1.2 m)
Hardy in zone 6-11

"Souvenir de la Malmaison"
This is Bourbon rose bred in France in the middle of the 19th century.  The Malmaison is the palace where the Empress Josephine retired after her divorce from Napoleon.  This rose is known for its fragrance, and is an ancestor for many current roses.  It is a fairly small rose, rarely reaching 4 feet tall (1.2 m), and it is sensitive to fungal diseases (somewhat less of a problem in dry Arizona).
Hardy in zone 5-11


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Text and Pictures © 2001 Philippe Faucon, All Rights Reserved.