Old Roses Become New Again

A Texas garden center proves that diverse, easy-to-care-for antique rose varieties are anything but old-fashioned.

| August/September 2006

The rose has a prickly reputation, believed by many to be fussy, demanding and standoffish. To dispel that nonsense, one has only to stroll through one of the two Antique Rose Emporiums in Texas. Here, hundreds of old roses romp through the many display gardens, carefree as daisies, mingling gracefully with herbs, grasses and native plants in a variety of lush settings.

There are two Antique Rose Emporiums: the original in the small town of Independence, an hour or so west of Houston, and the newest one in San Antonio. These two garden centers encompass very different styles in their extensive display gardens, but both settings beautifully showcase roses in the landscape.

“Old roses are the perfect garden plant,” owner Mike Shoup says. “They deserve their chance to be displayed artistically, with creativity, whimsy and in interesting combinations — not just planted in rows and rectangles.”

These antique roses grow on their own roots, unlike many modern hybrids, which are grafted. They are vigorous, long-lived, tough plants, surviving even the extreme heat and humidity of the Texas landscape. They have enough pest and disease resistance to thrive in the organic gardens of the Antique Rose

Emporium; indeed, many have survived in the wild on nothing but neglect for decades. They offer a wide range of flower colors, but generally are softer and more muted than the vibrant, sometimes even gaudy hues of modern tea roses. And, most important of all, these roses have fragrance.

“Fragrance is so important — it’s the soul and emotion of the plant. And it provides our emotional tie to the plant, through memory,” Shoup says.

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