Tea Roses: Thomas Rivers 1854

The Tea-Scented China Rose
(Rosa Indica Odorata)
Rosier Thé
Images added from Beauties of the Rose by Henry Curtis 1850-1853

Madame Willermoz The original Rosa odorata or Blush Tea-scented Rose, has long been a favourite. This pretty variation of the China Rose was imported into England from China in 1810; from hence it was sent into France, where, in combination with the yellow China or Tea Rose, it has been a fruitful parent of all the splendid varieties we now possess. Mr. Parkes introduced the yellow variety from China in 1824; and even now, though so many fine varieties have been raised but few surpass it in size and beauty of its flowers, semi-double as they are: it has but a very slight tea-like scent, but its offspring have generally a delicious scent, which I impute to their hybridization with Rosa odorata. In France the yellow Tea Rose is exceedingly popular, and in the summer and autumn months hundreds of plants are sold in the flower markets of Paris, principally worked on little stems or "mi-tiges". They are brought to market in pots, with their heads partially enveloped in coloured paper in such an elegant and effective mode, that it is scarcely possible to avoid being tempted to give two or three francs for such a pretty object. In the fine climate of Italy, Tea-scented roses bloom in great perfection during the autumn: our late autumnal months are often too moist and stormy for them; but in August they generally fower in England very beautifully. I was much impressed in the autumn of 1835 with the effects of climate on these roses; for in a small enclosed garden at Versailles, I saw, in September, hundreds of plants of yellow Tea Roses covered with ripe seeds and flowers. The French cultivators say that it very rarely produce a variety worth notice. The culture of Tea-scented Roses is worthy of more attention than it receives, for surely no class more deserves it. In calm weather, in early autumn their large and fragrant flowers are quite unique, and add much to the variety and beauty of the autumnal rose garden.

In describing a few select varieties of this class, our first group shall comprise those with rose-coloured flowers; and two more beautiful roses cannot be imagined than Adam and Souvenir d'un Ami. How large, how finely shaped and fragrant are the flowers! Two very old friends in this range of colour deserve also a good word; Goubault for its exquisite fragrance, and Princesse Marie for greenhouse culture only, as its magnificent flowers seldom or never open in the open air. Many so called yellow roses are in this group, but very few, however, deserve the appellation. Vicomtesse Decazes and Elise Sauvage are well known roses, and really are not yet surpassed: the later has, apparently, of late years become very delicate in its habit; this is to be regretted, for it is one of the most beautiful roses. Canary, a new semi-double rose from Lyons; in bud it is of the most brilliant yellow, and quite charming, but it must always be gathered when in bud.

Souvenir d'un AmiMoiré and Barbot, two pale flesh-coloured roses, tinted with fawn, are very double and fine; the former, one of the largest roses of this class. Devoniensis, the only Tea-scented rose ever raised in England, is still unrivalled; its creamy white flowers, with their delicate rose-tint, are always beautiful. Among these almost white roses Madame Willermoz is very fine; its flowers are slightly tinted in the centre with salmon: it is one of the most robust and hardy Tea Roses. Julie Mansais and Niphetos are two pure white roses of forst-rate excellence. Victoria, Pellonia, and Narcisse, the latter an improvement on Pactolus, are three very pretty plae yellow roses. So far we have gone through the shades of colour in this class, leaving only that remarkable class of which Safrano is the type: the buds of this rose, as is well known, are of a deep fawn before expansion, and then very beautiful; but they soon fade on opening, and lose their beauty. In this class of roses a new variety exhibited last year in Paris, raised in Dijon, and called Gloire de Dijon, is a great acquisition; its flowers are large and as durable as those of the Bourbon Souvenir de la Malmaison, which they much resemble in shape; but their colour, nearly as deep as the buds of Safrano, is most striking; its foliage is as thick and large, and its habits as robust as those of the above well-known Bourbon rose, and if it opens freely in our climate it will be highly popular. Another fawn-coloured rose raised at Lyons, which is new, also deserves attention. It is called August Vacher; its flowers are not quite so large as those of Gloire de Dijon, but equally double, and of a deeper, brighter fawn colour, something like Noisette Ophirie; its habit is most vigorous and robust: these two new roses will, I venture to say, make a noise in the rose world.

Madame de St. Joseph, pale salmon tinted with pink, is nearly unique in colour, but its flowers are often very irregular in their shape.