Says long-time SOB Member Margaret Nelson (1995), “Each June I hope a Moss Rose will be in bloom to bring to the SOB meeting.
Right now my own plant is not in bloom but I was able to get a few flowers from another garden to bring to our June meeting for show-and-tell and also to photograph.
In short, the ‘moss’ on Moss Roses is not ground-growing moss as we know it but glandular growths on the stem and sepals of the rose. This occurs to a much lesser extent on other rose varieties such as Gallicas, which do not have the quantity of ‘moss’ and thus are not specifically classified as Moss Roses, but do have that nice surprise additional scent of the moss.
In both rose cases, the moss has scented oils which are a little sticky, such that when you rub it, makes your fingers smell nice. The scents vary and can be piney, rose or other pleasant scents.
The Moss Rose was a sport (spontaneous, natural change) of a Centifolia rose and was first recognized in the late 1600s in Carcasonne, France. Centifolia roses have lots of petals, lots of thorns and terrific rose fragrance. They may have been grown as long ago as by the Romans, then been lost and re-discovered by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries. Look at paintings of flowers by the Dutch masters to see more Centifolias.
Doyle referred to a Moss Rose in ‘The Naval Treaty’ probably because they were popular in Victorian gardens due to the scent, beauty and moss.”
Adds SOB Associate Editor Lauren Messenger, “Wow! Those are great photos! I had never seen a Moss Rose before. They’re fascinating! I’ve certainly seen Centifolia roses in paintings (though I probably would not have been able to name them before), but Moss Roses are entirely new to me, and I’m glad to have learned about them. My grandfather used to cultivate roses, particularly English tea roses, but I suspect his garden never contained as unusual a rose variety as this one! The combination of scents sounds lovely. Thank you for sharing this!