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Portland Roses
[From Modern Roses 10, p. 463] An old class of roses, taking its name from the first of the class, 'Duchess of Portland'. Probably created by crosses between 'Autumn Damask' and 'Slater's Crimson China'. With the Hybrid Chinas and Bourbons, they fathered the Hybrid Perpetuals.


[From Old Roses and English Roses, pp. 78-80:] The Portland Roses were the first family in which the China Rose played a part by passing on its ability to repeat flower… [they were] soon to be overtaken, first by the Bourbons, and not long after by the Hybrid Perpetuals, but in 1848 there were eighty-four varieties growing at Kew. Today only a handful remain … [Their origins] are shrouded in mystery … but we do know that around the year 1800 the Duchess of Portland obtained from Italy a rose known as Rosa paestana or 'Scarlet Four Seasons Rose', and that it was from this rose that the group developed… The Portland Rose was sent from England to France where André Dupont, gardener to the Empress Josèphine, named it 'Duchess of Portland', and it was not very long before the French had raised numerous varieties… [Portland Roses] usually show a strong Damask influence, but they are shorter in growth, perhaps 4 ft. in height. The flowers tend to have very little stem so that the leaves are packed closely around the flowers, forming what Graham Thomas describes as a rosette or shoulder of leaves… [they] have a strong Damask fragrance.


[From Phillips & Rix, The Quest for the Rose, p. 82:] Although many of the Portland roses were probably grown at Malmaison in France, they got their name from the English Duchess of Portland. She sent a plant to the château and the gardener there, Andre Dupont, called the first rose of the group after her. The origin of Portland roses is debatable but they were probably bred form a China x Damask cross. They repeat flower, although less reliably than the modern Hybrid Teas, and grow to around 120 cm (4 ft). The flowers, which retain a strong Damask scent, are on short stems so that, when open, they tend to be closely surrounded by the leaves.


[From Gardening with Roses, by Judith McKeon, p. 24:] Portland Roses (Damask Perpetuals) [are] the unsung heroes of the rose world and they make excellent care-free shrubs for small gardens... compact, bushy plants that bloom abundantly in late spring and again in autumn... some gallica genes are mized in, which account for the bristly stems, crimson shades, and hardiness... among the easiest and most rewarding of the old roses to grow.


[From Gardening with Old Roses, by Alan Sinclair and Rosemary Thodey, p. 28:] Portlands are useful for smaller gardens as they flower continuously and are not large plants. The two best known, which were bred in France in the 1860s, are 'Comte de Chambord' and 'Jacques Cartier'.


[From Growing Old-Fashioned Roses, by Trevor Nottle, pp. 19-20:] the Portlands [were] bred in sunny Italy... this group of roses fell from favour early and hardly figured at all in any further developments. There are only one or two varieties in cultivation. No special features distinguish them from the others.

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