Roses had been developed in China for hundreds of years before that country began to open its borders to English trade. China roses were developed largely from Rosa chinensis, a native of China that grows as a vigorous once-flowering climber but had produced in cultivation a number of short, bushy ‘sports’ that flowered almost continuously.
The most important of these, which had been known in China since at least the 11th century, was introduced to England in the middle of the 18th century. It is known as ‘Old Blush’ or ‘Parsons’ Pink’, and by 1823 was said to be ‘in every English cottage garden’.
It flowers continuously – all the year round under glass – so rose-breeders soon crossed it with European roses like Gallicas and Damasks to bring us the repeat-flowering that we take for granted in our modern roses.