Botanical Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Related To: apples, strawberries, dogwood, hawthorn, lady's mantle
Born In: Asia is the homeland for most of the 100-plus species of roses, though a number of species originated in Europe and North America, as well.
Bred By: Empress Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon, is considered the earliest of the great rose collectors and is responsible for many of the old-fashioned varieties that are still planted today; Henry Bennett was the first 'rosarian' to use modern breeding techniques, developing the perennially popular 'hybrid tea' roses in the mid-19th century; David Austin of Shropshire, England is known as the originator of English roses and has introduced nearly 200 varieties since he started breeding in 1969
All-Star Varieties: 'Gertrude Jekyll' (fluffy petals with the quintessential old-fashioned rose fragrance); 'Cecile Brunner' (strong climber); 'Mister Lincoln' (classic deep red rose for cutting with excellent fragrance)
Fun Fact: William Radler is one of the most famous rose breeders today, having released the highly disease resistant 'Knock Out' rose in 2000, which has become the best-selling variety in history. Radler still breeds his roses in the basement and backyard of his suburban home, where he intentionally saturates the growing area with the fungal diseases that cause so many problems for rose growers, based on the idea that the roses he produces will be inherently disease resistant — a hypothesis that Knock Outs have proven to be true.