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Gallica Roses
Provins roses. Hips are round.

Until recently, it was difficult to find information about Gallica Roses. That changed with the publication of three books: Suzanne Verrier's Rosa Gallica, Brent Dickerson's The Old Rose Adventurer, and François Joyaux's La Rose de France. Up until a few years ago, most nurseries carried only the most common varieties -- like 'Apothecary's Rose' and 'Rosa Mundi' -- and trying to track down some of the more obscure varieties required a lot of work. That, too, has changed. Now nurseries, like Vintage Gardens in California, are offering an increasingly broad selection of these roses. In addition, hybridizers like David Austin and Peter Beales, are using Gallica varieties in their breeding programs to create new roses. What a marvelous testament to roses that grew in gardens around the world hundreds of years ago.


[From The Rose Garden, Tenth Edition, by William Paul, p. 247:] The French Provins, or "Garden" Roses, as they are often termed, once formed the most extensive group belonging to the genus "Rosa." They have been very long under cultivation, and many of the old varieties are prolific beyond measure in producing seed, which vegetates freely... They are very hardy, thriving well in the commonest garden soil.
The French Roses approach nearer to the Provence than to any other group; they are distinguished from them by a more upright and compact growth; the prickles are also smaller and less numerous, and the flowers are flatter.
Thin out the heads well; then, when pruning, shorten the shoots left back to four, five, or six eyes, or to where the wood is firm and well ripened and the eyes full and plump.


[From The Charm of Old Roses, by Nancy Steen, p. 42:] Typically, Gallicas have bristles and a few small thorns… their leaves are smallish, dull green and coarse.


[From Classic Roses, by Peter Beales, p. 87:] the fragrance of gallicas is delicate.


[From Gardening with Old Roses, p. 21:] Gallicas are low-growing, spreading shrubs which sucker easily and tolerate poor soils. Their leaves are a dull green and the hips are insignificant, but the flowers are relatively large and held erect, appearing early in the season in late spring.


[From Roses for English Gardens, by Gertrude Jekyll, pp. 36-39:] Of the old Provins Roses (R. gallica) there are a number of catalogued varieties. They are mostly striped or splashed with rosy and purplish colour. I have grown them nearly all, but though certainly pretty things, they are of less value in the garden than the striped Damask 'Rosa Mundi'. [See 'Blush Gallica' for more information.]


[From Roses for English Gardens, by Gertrude Jekyll, p. 39:] the best as far as my own knowledge and judgment go being 'Reine Blanche' (if it be a true gallica and the full double 'Blush Gallica'.


[From The Rose Bible, by Rayford Reddell, p. 19: Gallicas are] the oldest of all Antique garden roses; they are also the most highly developed (only about 50 hybrids are now in general cultivation, but there once were more than 900 named varieties)... Although there are a few soft pinks, most Gallicas blossom in strong colors -- deep pink, purple, violet, and mauve, with crimson shadings in between. Many are dramatically striped or mottled; almost all are fragrant...


[From Gallica Hybrids in France: 1804 to 1848, Francois Joyaux writes that Empress Josephine] particularly favoured two rose growers who were considerably involved in the development of Gallicas. They were Dupont and Descemet. Dupont in Paris had, in 1813, a collection of 218 species and varieties of roses, of which 60 were Gallicas. Of these, only twelve exist today... In fact, today, out of Josephine's 167, only about 75 remain.


[From The First Gallicas Raised in France: 1804-1815, by Francois Joyaux, p. 2:] At the end of the First Empire, in 1815, there were some 500 gallica varieties available in France... The first great gallica collections (and of roses in general) were on the one hand those of the Empress Josephine and on the other those of the four great nurserymen in the region of Paris, namely Vilmorin and Du Pont in Paris itself, Godefroy at Ville d'Avray and Descemet at Saint-Denis, close to the capital...


[From Roses of America, by Stephen Scanniello and Tania Bayard, p. 61:] Before the nineteenth century, the gallica was the commonest form of rose in cultivation; in 1848, William Paul, a prominent English rosarian, listed over five hundred varieties in his book The Rose Garden... The leaves, which tend to droop, have a resinous scent when crushed...


[From Ibid, p. 62:] Those with single or semidouble flowers produce abundant hips...


[From The Rose Manual, by Robert Buist, pp. 48-54: R. gallica] is a very great seed-bearer, and has consequently been much used by florists in crossing with other varieties to produce new sorts... The distinguishing features of this family are strong upright flower-stalks, want of large prickles, rigid leaves, and compact growth. The colours vary from pink to the deepest shades of crimson. Nearly all the striped, mottled, and variegated roses have originated in this group... [also includes cultural advice.] To Rosa Gallica we are indebted for nearly all these curiously spotted, mottled, and striped roses recently brought into cultivation. [The author was writing in 1844.]


[From The Old Rose Adventurer, by Brent C. Dickerson, p. 41: In the description for 'De Van Eeden'] As with all Gallicas, the petals finally blacken before falling -- the explanation of the so-called 'Black rose'.


[Ibid, p. 29:] Always known in France, [the Gallicas] alone accounted for more than half of the roses known [around 1800]...


[From The Old Rose Informant, by Brent C. Dickerson, p. 6: In 1820, Jean-Pierre Vibert wrote:] The immense quantity of varieties, the imperceptible shadings [of difference] between them, the likeness of their characteristics, their ambiguous connection with the others that exist, the marks of doubtful hybridity... [Vibert had] at least three hundred varieties [in 1820]... nearly all the flowers of this class... have the benefit of standing by and bringing their hips to maturity, and of cross-breeding between themselves... and Nature, in refusing them that delicious scent which distinguishes the Centifolias and the Quartre-Saisons [Damask Perpetuals], has shared out to them this richness and variety of color which form one of the particular characteristics of this class...


[From Old Roses For Small Gardens, by Lily Shohan, p. 28:] In the garden at Mt. Vernon, the rose beds are edged in a box and filled mostly with gallicas, all pruned to a height of about 30 inches. The result is formal in appearance though the roses themselves are generally considered plants more suitable to background use or for facing down down a shrub border.


[From Growing Old-Fashioned Roses, by Trevor Nottle, p. 15:] the Dutch, Flemish and French nurseryman who raised the Gallicas [didn't use the pollen daubing techniques of modern breeders, instead, the planted] the best varieties of all sorts of roses close together and [left] the skilled work up to Chance and Nature...


[From The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book, p. 16: Thomas believes] all the purplish varieties listed under R. centifolia probably owe their intense colouring to [the Gallica]


[Ibid, p. 26:] Gallicas are almost thornless

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