A Cut Above: All The Things About Rose Varieties And Why They’re Unique

Jun 05, 2024

A Cut Above: All The Things About Rose Varieties And Why They’re Unique

Hey there,

A closet full of designer threads? In our (french seamed) dreams. But a vase full of designer garden roses? That’s what we call any given Tuesday. 

But if a rose is a rose is a rose, then what's the difference between a so called garden variety, the ones your grandpa has been growing out by his pool since you were yay high, and the two dozen, long stemmed versions every leading lady seems to love on the silver screen?

Let's get into it.


Rose 101

Like their fellow flora and fauna, roses are classified most generally by their family, which, rather refreshingly, is also called rose. This large plant family contains many different herbs, vines, shrubs, or trees - many which are very different from the flowers from which this family takes its name.

Under the "rose" umbrella there are further subcategories, called genera or, speaking singularly, a genus. And while both of these words are the sort of fancy Latin terms that can feel a little intimidating, they're really just a buttoned up way of saying a smaller group within the larger one that share certain characteristics. Within these genera are even more specific categorizations called species.

The roses we know and love belong to the genus rosa, which itself contains many more species than we will ever have vases for. Though you know we'll certainly try. And finally, for some plants, including roses, species can also be identified by a final subcategory - variety.

The most common varieties of roses today fall into a few categories: wild roses, modern roses, old garden roses, English roses, among others. When we're talking floral arranging, most of what we use falls into the modern, garden, or English category - although many artists and designers can use wild roses and more in their work.

There are a few distinctions that help classify roses between these categories, but the most easily perceived is the petal formation. Modern roses tend to have a bloom that looks familiar to most of us - slightly tapered when budded and opening up to multiple layers of petals. Garden roses, on the other hand, tend to have more intricate petal formations (e.g. quadrants) and, while not reflective of all varieties in this category, can also be known for their delicate fragrance.


By any other name…

In case this trip down middle school biology lane wasn't enough, these categorizations can be further nuanced when rose breeders are considered. And while the science of this is certainly something we will leave to the botanists, suffice it to say that breeders have learned to make the sort of magic usually reserved for Mother Nature herself. By "crossing" two varieties, breeders can select for certain traits from two, different varieties to create a new variety entirely that, all things willing, possesses both sets of favorable traits from its parents.

David Austin is, by most accounts, the most esteemed rose breeder in the world. Started by David C. H. Austin in Shropshire, England, this family-led business continues the mission it began three generations ago: to create a more beautiful rose. David Austin has cultivated more than 150 varieties of English roses, the type he created when he bred Old Roses with Modern Tea Hybrid Roses more than sixty years ago.

Similarly rooted in family, Wabara was established in 2007 and is helmed by lead breeder, Keiji Kunieda and his son, Kenichi Kunieda. First released to the international market in 2017, you can now find more than 60 varieties of their garden type roses grown in Africa, North and South America, and Europe.

Most familiarly, when you're talking roses you'll likely refer to them by their variety name. If you're referencing a bred variety, this name may also include the name of said breeder. For example, Farmgirl favorite David Austin Juliet. David Austin referring to, of course, the David Austin who created it, and Juliet being the variety name.


The more you know.

So what's a garden rose? And what's a Wabara rose? Like all of our favorite things to wonder about in life, sometimes both things can be true. Our rule of thumb? If you know you're looking for a rose by a particular breeder, start with that name. Between Google, your friendly neighborhood nursery, and your verbose favorite online flower company (that's us), we can help you find what you're looking for. And maybe even deliver it to your doorstep.

Not sure where to start? We get it! Take a toe dip into the world of garden and specialty bred roses with one of our growers bunches shipped straight from the farm to you! Shop one dozen, two dozen, or a bouquet of these USA-grown garden, Wabara or David Austin roses and you’ll be sure to impress!


Team Farmgirl

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