What are historic roses?

Historic roses are timeless and beautiful old roses from past centuries which continue to deserve a place in today’s gardens, however large or small. With their classic “old-fashioned” charm and graceful forms, the soft petals and delicate colours of old roses are often accompanied by a deliciously rich and powerful fragrance.

Many old roses are very robust, trouble-free and disease-resistant so that they require minimal attention and little or no pruning. They vary widely in shape and size: some of the smaller ones can easily be grown in pots; others will rapidly form a thick hedge, cover a house wall or scramble high into trees.

Moreover, old roses contain the original gene pool from which all later roses have been bred. They are supremely rewarding to grow, fascinating to study and they need to be conserved.

Above all, the best historic roses are outstanding garden-worthy performers which have stood the test of time.

For more information see our booklets on fragrance, the history of old roses, old garden roses of special merit, and older climbing roses.

Where to see historic roses in the UK

Here are some suggestions of gardens and national collections of historic roses that you can visit and admire.

A brief history of old roses

Find out more about the rose groups that have evolved to form the backbone of this popular garden flower.

Top ten starter roses

Are you new to old roses? Try our top 10  starter roses for their repeat-flowering, fragrance, beauty and disease-resistance.

Chairman's top ten

You might like to choose some of the once flowering old roses, both shrub and rambling, that will give several weeks of colour as well as having a wonderful fragrance.