Modern Roses twelve lists something over 30,000 named cultivars of roses. Of those, considerably less than one percent can be found at the local nursery or big-box store. Perhaps not more than ten percent can even be found in commerce around the world. The great embarrassment of riches in the variety of roses that have been built up over centuries of work by rose breeders is reduced immeasurably by other factors. With its catalogue of roses running into the thousands, one of the forces fighting the disappearance of good roses for more than two decades is Vintage Gardens Roses.
The nursery grew organically out of one rose lover’s own proclivities to collect roses he fell in love with. And as a person with broad tastes and an open heart, this collector soon had a collection of thousands of different cultivars spanning every class of rose. When I began growing my own rose collection in the mid 1990s, the Vintage Gardens online collection of roses was well established as one of the leading sources for good cultivars that had fallen out of fashion.
My own success with Vintage Gardens roses has been spotty. Most of my failures arose from not properly understanding how well suited a rose in their collection might be to my own geography, or from not taking delivery at precisely the right time of year. At long last, I believe that I have adapted my ordering and rose care habits so that most of the plants I receive from Vintage Gardens might be expected to survive. And my own garden boasts examples of roses available from VG and no other source.
The white multiflora Psyche, for example, grew like topsy after it was planted in mid-May here last year. So did Climbing Pinocchio. The once-blooming Crepe Rose produced what was arguably the prettiest rose blossom I had the joy to photograph in my garden last year. Titian’s bright pink blossoms were a joy, especially when viewed in the same line of sight as Centennaire des Lourdes. It may be that Butterscotch will perish from the nibbling action of some furry critter, but the salmon colored America is growing too vigorously to be set back in the same way.
The number of hours of enjoyment I have spent browsing the online catalogue of Vintage Gardens I will forever remember fondly. And I will always be grateful that they did not turn me away long ago when I showed up with a cheap camera to record their roses for RoseFile web site. It was one of my favorite photo expeditions ever.
I greeted the news of their closing with great sadness: Vintage Gardens takes their last orders in June of this year. Their presence will be sorely missed.
Thank You Gregg Lowry, Phillip Robinson, and all who slaved tirelessly at Vintage Gardens to bring the special joys of rose gardening to countless thousands of gardens and gardeners over the decades. We wish you the best!