About English Roses


In 1954, a new, pink grandiflora named the Queen Elizabeth Rose marked the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, who came to the throne in 1952. In 1976, the peach and cream Silver Jubilee Rose commemorated the Queen's Silver Jubilee. In 2002, the golden yellow Gracious Queen Rose celebrated the Queen's Golden Jubilee. English royalty has a long association with the rose, which is the national flower, and the Queen's favorite flower.

The Wars of the Roses

The Wars of the Roses (1455 to 1485) are famously represented by old English roses. They pitted the houses of York and Lancaster against one another for the English throne. Lancaster's heraldic symbol was a red rose (Rosa gallica officinalis) and York's was a white rose (Rosa alba). The Wars eventually ended with a Lancastrian victory and ushered in the golden age of the Tudors. Henry Tudor assured national unity when he married into the House of York. The Tudor symbol became a red and white rose. The red petals surrounded the white ones, signifying the Lancaster conquest over the house of York. Interestingly, Rosa alba may derive from Rosa gallica in combination with a number of other rose species.

UK's Largest Rose

The Kiftsgate rose (Rosa filipes 'Kiftsgate') dates to 1938. It grows in the Kiftsgate Court Gardens in Gloucestershire, England, whose grounds opened to the public in the 1970s. According to the Kiftsgate website, the Kiftsgate rose is the largest rose in the United Kingdom, climbing to more than 60 feet. The Kiftsgate roses generally begin to flower in early July, and continue to bloom for about three weeks.

Classic Characteristics

Classic old English roses are among the 800 varieties of roses available through specialist growers such as David Austin Roses. They characterize the form and fragrance of old roses, with the advantages of modern-day repeat flowering and disease resistance. Selected varieties such as Gertrude Jekyll offer strong and ideally balanced old rose fragrances. Scepter'd Isle has a myrrh fragrance, and The Generous Gardener blends musk, myrrh and old rose.

Bone China Roses

The English country garden and the English rose inspired the best-selling bone china design in the world, called "Old Country Roses." Since its introduction in 1962, more than 100 million pieces of Old Country Roses china have sold worldwide. The design features a combination of red roses and tea roses surrounded by gold stipple and a burnished gold rim. The design was the creation of Harold Holdcroft of Royal Albert. The company continues to manufacture Old Country Roses dinner, tea and coffee china, gift ware and an array of complementary items.

Historic Return

Rare roses that were once cultivated in Britain but were lost over time are now back. Their return is thanks to the efforts of the Historic Roses Group of the Royal National Rose Society in Hertfordshire. The Royal National Rose Garden at St. Albans is home to the exhibit of historic roses reintroduced to Britain from abroad.

Keywords: English roses, Queen Elizabeth Rose, The Kiftsgate Rose

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Maureen Katemopoulos has been a freelance writer for over 25 years. Her articles on travel, the arts, cuisine and history have appeared in Stanislaus Magazine, Orientations, The Asia Magazine, and The Peninsula Group Magazine, among others. She holds a Baccalaureate degree in journalism from Stanford University.