Old or "antique" roses are more than just shrubs or bushes, sometimes they are family members, passed on from one generation to another. They are our link with the past and family members who carefully tended them, now long gone. Their "given" names are long forgotten, now only remembered as "grandmother's rose" or "Aunt Jenny's pink". Throughout the country rose cuttings are transported from place to place, reminders of places and people that we have known. How they survived around old homesteads dotting the countryside is a testament to their hardiness. And there is no more tougher place to survive than on the Edwards Escarpment in Central Texas where the heat and drought during the summer can be as punishing as the desert and the winter cold as unpredictable and harsh as the upper Mid-west. Having said that there are several different roses that have not only survived the neglect and climate, but thrived. China and Tea roses, China's in particular are very adapted to weather extremes in Central Texas, although my favorite roses to plant are Teas.
I love Tea roses for their scent, bloom size and shrub size. Their blowsy, almost carefree forms work well in the informal beds along with native plants. Old Tea shrubs of 'Mrs. Dudley Cross', 'Duchesse de Brabant' and even 'Colombia' have been found, still thriving in this area.
For its compact size and durability, you can't beat 'Archduke Charles', known for a long time as the "San Marcos Rose" by the Texas Rose Rustlers before it was properly identified. And no Central Texas garden, or for that matter any garden, should be without 'Old Blush', both in its climbing or shrub form. 'Climbing Old Blush' can be found in many old Central Texas gardens, planted in the 1800's and still thriving. These China roses are tough and hardy - just the type of roses to plant in a Texas garden.
But no rose recommendation can go without 'Seven Sisters' - a rambler that can be found across the nation, frequently draped over fences, covered in beautiful pink blooms of "seven" differing shades during the spring. Although only a spring bloomer, this is a rose that thrives on neglect and abuse, by cattle, deer and weather, only to come back with a vengeance the following spring, covered with blooms. In that same vein, 'Lady Banks' species rose is frequently found around old German settlements in Central Texas, seemingly not bothered by either the deer population or the weather. It makes a great huge evergreen mound, covered in either yellow or white tiny blossoms each spring.
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