You know know it's a Rembrandt because of the color palette, the brushwork, and the exquisite use of chiaroscuro - high contrast between foreground and background. You know it's a VanGogh because of the highly stylized and often rough brushwork, the bright and saturated colors, and the caricaturization of form. You know that the piece being played on the radio is a Mozart because of the fairly simple harmonic qualities and relatively high level of quickly played ornamentation. Musicians and painters have styles that reflect the available technological tools, the recent and distant histories of their arts, and current likes and fashions of the day. The same is true of rose breeders.
Being able to see roses grouped by breeder allows us to make sense of the world of roses in one more way. We can think about the tools, techniques, and breeding stocks that were available to each. We can consider the particular cultural issues being dealt with at the time.
We can examine roses and discern something of the tastes of both the breeder and the buying public. In some cases breeders will have a strongly developed unique style. In many other cases making distinctions between contemporaries, especially those living in the same geographical regions, is not very useful.
Rose breeders are grouped into four main groups. The first were French breeders who, over the last 3/4 of the ninteenth century bred most of the Old Garden Roses we enjoy today.
The second is a group who developed shrubby and climbing modern roses primarily in the first half of the twentieth century.
The third group specialized in developing the hybrid tea rose into more ever more colors. There, too, are those who have developed floribundas and miniatures. To a significant degree these breeders pushed the bounds of rose breeding in incremental or evolutionary ways rather than radical or revolutionary ones.
The fourth group has shown a great deal of independance, pushing roses into new directions, developing whole new classes and whole new sets of criteria for evaluating roses.
Some names represent familiy institutions rather than single people. Kordes and Meilland, for example represent families of rose breeders who retain a measure of thematic continuity in their work.
To all of these and many more we are truly grateful.