A Time Capsule of Roses

If you could choose one rose to send a hundred years into the future, which would it be? This is the question I posed recently to rose lovers around the country and the world. A real time capsule is a vessel for lifeless artifacts, but imagine if we could create one that would send forward living things like rose plants—a sort of temporal Wardian Case.

above: 400-year-old ‘Xiangyun Pink’

What might our time cabinet contain? One group of rose lovers have been working on just such a project for the past decade, The Friends of Vintage Roses. This non-profit preservation group inherited the large rose collection that once supplied cuttings to Vintage Gardens nursery. The Friends’ mission since 2012 has been to send these roses off to the future.

We published excerpts of responses from 90 rose lovers in a recent article for the ARS magazine. (Click here to see and download the full ARS article.)

Our full version of the first contributions to our Time Capsule of Roses, with complete responses, and photos of all of the roses will be stored here for you to read and enjoy.

(Click here to read and download the first installment of this online Noah’s Ark of roses.)

The Friends would like to share with the world what YOU want to be preserved. We ask for one rose only, and a comment. We are NOT asking you for your “favorite rose.” But, what do you think should survive, and why? 

How to contribute a rose variety for our Time Capsule of Roses

Send us an email at info@thefriendsofvintageroses.org.

Include the name of the rose and why you think it should be sent 100 years into the future. Please limit your words to 200 or fewer, somewhere between a Twitter and a Facebook post. Attach a photo of yours if you have a good one you’d like to share. Closeups of flowers or plants are best for the format of our Time Capsule. If you share the photo of someone other than you, please include their name for credit, and tell us you have their permission.

We will aim to produce a monthly pdf that you can download or read online, here on our Time Capsule of Roses page. We urge you to collect the pdfs, and in a year we will announce the next phase of our Time Capsule of Roses! —Gregg Lowery & Joan Olson, The Friends of Vintage Roses

Most Recent Additions to the Time Capsule

Your suggestion for the Time Capsule of Roses will appear here below once we receive it and upload it with an image of the rose.  We begin with a sampling from the first 90 roses that launched this preservation effort. For all of the roses proposed download our full PDF versions which you can save for future reference. Click the links above to download all PDFs. Thank you for your contribution!  —The Friends


“Agnes Smith”  T

Di Durston—Perth, Western Australia
“Agnes Smith” is a possible contender for ‘Hume’s Blush Tea-Scented China’. We know that roses traveled from China to the colony in the very early days. My plant comes from Rookwood Cemetery from the grave of Agnes Smith. This rose can be traced to 1893. Agnes was originally buried in the Devonshire Cemetery, the first in Sydney. Agnes’s remains were moved to Rookwood to be with those of her husband in 1901. The rose foliage is always clean, it always flowers continually throughout the year and bears many hips, it is a definite from the China group of roses. The blooms are a soft pink that can be affected by the heat to become deeper pink. “Agnes Smith” has strong healthy genetics that would lend itself to future baseline breeding and the fragrance is soft floral rose. (Photo by Di Durston)

Anne Morrow Lindbergh  HTClifford Orent—Palm Springs, CA
Grown on fortuniana rootstock and now transplanted twice (from the low desert to the high desert and back to the low desert again), this has consistently been the best performer in my garden over the span of many years. It produces large quantities of impressive blooms literally throughout the year, with clean, healthy foliage and is disease free in this climate. It’s been used extensively in hybridizing, most notably by Bob Martin, and is the parent of ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’, ‘Gemini’ and ‘Buttercream’, among others. (Photo by Beth Hana)

Autumn HT
Jody Doss—Lagunitas, CA
As for the rose I’d choose to preserve at least 100 years into the future, I pick ‘Autumn’. I chose it because it is rare, and so very beautiful, and I’d love for it to exist forever! (Photo by Jody Doss)

Autumn Damask D
Malcolm Manners—Lakeland, FL
IF I had to choose it would be ‘Autumn Damask’, since, assuming we have the right one, it came from a seed that sprouted well over 2000 years ago and is still going strong. Surely that’s worth preserving for multiple more centuries. (Photo by Gregg Lowery)

“Belfield” Ch
Stephen Scanniello—Barnegat, NJ
The one rose that I would send 100 years into the future would be the Bermuda Mystery Rose “Belfield”. Found in Bermuda, this rose is thought by many to be the original ‘Slater’s Crimson China’. In my opinion, of all the roses that are grown today as ‘Slater’s Crimson China’, “Belfield” is the most similar to the illustration published in Curtis’ The Botanical Garden, 1794. (Photo by Stephen Scanniello)

Charlotte Armstrong HT
Burling Leong—Visalia, CA
This 1940 hybrid tea bred by Walter Lammerts has 5,940 unique descendants. With all her good qualities she still has more breeding potential for future roses. (Photo courtesy TFoVR)

Climbing Crimson Glory HTCl
Paula Larkin Hutton—Los Altos, CA
Then I thought, what do people think of when they think of a rose? Red. And fragrant. And repeat blooming. And for me, it has to be a climber. So, I have settled on ‘Climbing Crimson Glory’. There are roses I like as well. There are even a few I may like more, some days at least. But none of them fit the iconic rose as well. (Photo courtesy TFoVR)

Devoniensis T
Murray Radka—Otago, New Zealand
A rare English Tea, climbing and bush form, hardy and reliable, very large beautifully formed double-cream to blush-pink flowers, fragrant and deserves the title “Magnolia Rose”. (Photo courtesy TFoVR) 

Duchesse de Rohan HP
Darrell Schramm—Vallejo, CA
Quietly elegant, alluringly fragrant, virtuously dependable, utterly beautiful, this has the most beautiful foliage of any old rose, and that should not be lost to the horticultural world. (Photo by Darrell Schramm)

Frances E. Lester HM
Ron Robertson—Fontainebleau, France
This wonderful rose incorporates characteristics that I think are in little favour now, like once-blooming and large size that aren’t convenient for modern gardens, but roses like this one are still worth preserving. In particular, this rose provides great sensory pleasures: incredible fragrance that carries for a good distance, a mass of flowers that a repeat-bloomer would have difficulty matching, and in the fall an amazing crop of long-lasting and colourful hips. (Photo by Cass Bernstein)

Lady Mary Fitzwilliam HT
Trang Bui—Sebastopol, CA
One of the most fascinating “origin stories” in rose history is that of Henry Bennett, the “father of modern hybrid teas.” A cattle farmer by trade, Bennett started propagating roses as an additional source of income and applied his knowledge of breeding cattle to roses. At a time when rose hybridizers didn’t practice deliberate hybridization or keep records, he utilized methods such as controlled pollination between known parents to optimize for desirable traits in a seedling. In 1882, he introduced ‘Lady Mary Fitzwilliam’, the stunning pale pink rose with opulent blooms and an intense fragrance, that helped usher in the era of Hybrid Teas. The first fertile Hybrid Tea, LMF is one of the most important parents of modern roses, and over 17,000 roses, including ‘Antoine Rivoire’, ‘Mme Caroline Testout’ and ‘Souvenir du President Carnot’ can trace their pedigree back to her. (Photo courtesy TFoVR)

Lijiang Road Climber R
Viru Viraraghavan—India 
As Walter de la Mare said “No one knows through what wild centuries roves back the rose.” Admirably fulfilling the poet’s expectation is this exquisite hybrid gigantea of which there are so many towering specimens carefully preserved by elaborate scaffolding in the heritage village of Lijiang, China. How long heritage will survive the aggression of soulless modernity we do not know. The ‘Lijiang Rose’ does indeed deserve to be carefully preserved so that it still adorns the world a hundred years hence. (Photo by Viru Viraraghavan)

Love and Peace HT
Ping Lim—CA
This modern HT rose was created to share her beauty and charm with the world, and it was named to remind us to cherish love and peace that are forever needed on Earth. (Photo by Ping Lim)

Manning’s Blush E
Pamela Temple—Willits, CA
When asked which rose I would choose to send forward a hundred years I first thought of my beautiful favorites. Then I began to think about what the world might be like a hundred years hence. I decided it would be best, considering climate change, to send a rose that could survive in tough conditions with low water needs, feeling that a less-than-perfect beauty was better than no roses at all. I chose ‘Manning’s Blush’, which grows in my garden with little care. It has already survived a long time since pre-1797 producing double Damask-pink, Damask scented blooms with foliage smelling of apples. It is also very winter-hardy. (Photo courtesy TFoVR)

Mister Liincoln HT
Barbra Streisand—Malibu, CA
(Photo by Bernard Loubert)

Mlle. Cecile Brunner Pol
Fabien Ducher—Lyon, France
From Ducher, 1881, it is still one of the best roses for more than 100 years and we don’t see any reason why it won’t be there in 100 years. We have a range of “sons” of ‘Cecile Brunner’, very interesting, coming soon. (Photo by Ron Robertson)

Mousseline  M
Sarah Owens—Sebastopol, CA
Compact and remontant, this old Moss rose (circa 1881) has many laudable features that are worth preserving for both pleasure and posterity. Rose-colored buds covered in novel soft green and russet fragrant moss glands open to flat and wide blush-white, freshly scented flowers. Mousseline's bushy habit and lush, spoon-shaped foliage suggests a strong genetic relationship with other treasured rose classes such as the Centifolias, Damasks, and Portlands but carries a distinct character that is unique and valuable for future generations of rose breeding. As changing climate conditions continue to test the endurance of roses to withstand extreme temperatures and unpredictable precipitation, this handsome and hardy perpetual bloomer can easily help continue the history of the rose without pampering or unnecessary inputs. 'Mousseline' would provide future rose lovers with a charming and timeless garden performer that harkens to the past while bravely forging a path toward the future of sustainability and genetic preservation. (Photo by Sarah Owens)

Renae PolCl
Carolyn Sanders—Albany, CA
This rose does it all! It can easily cover a wall or climb a trestle or arch with its 10-foot reach. It has long, lithe canes—easy to drape on an arch, is thornless and has elongated leaves that cover the bush from top to bottom, completely disease-resistant. The very fragrant blooms are varying shades of light pink and primarily appear in large clusters throughout the season. The bloom is small—about 2.5 inches diameter with about 43 petals. This rose was hybridized in 1954 by the great Ralph Moore. I do not see it in gardens very often, and it appears to be off the radar in terms of familiarity. It needs a good PR agent! (Photo by Gregg Lowery)

Rosa californica plena Sp
Saxon Holt—Novato, CA
I suspect the original intent of your query was to ask which of the many, many roses in cultivation have advocates for preservation and oh how I am tempted to try and pick among the many I have photographed and studied with the camera. And there are certainly a particular few that I hope people will stop, look closely at and get lost in the beauty of 100 years from now, but I have decided to take this opportunity to select a wild species rose and since I live in California and grow Rosa californica ‘Plena’ I will choose that one, though in other parts of the world, habitat gardeners might choose Rosa canina or R. setigera. More than the aesthetic beauty we humans ascribe to nature we must value the ecological function of gardens and I do hope that is so in 100 years. If not then surely our native species roses must be preserved. (Photo courtesy TFoVR)

Rosa gallica officinalis Sp
Therese Loubert—Rosiers-sur-Loire,France
Rosa gallica officinalis for a long time served as a physical remedy. As a medicinal herb, the “apothecary’s rose” and for its beauty, its simplicity, Rosa gallica must bloom again. (Photo courtesy TFoVR)

Rosa spinosissima Sp
Peter Boyd—England
A very variable species but typically with sweetly scented white or cream flowers and black heps. Origin of old Scots Roses, modern cultivars and a source of anti-oxidants. Wild populations of this species in the British Isles and mainland Europe have decreased over the last hundred years of habitat destruction. (Photo by Page Dickey)

Sally Holmes HM
Susan Feichtmeir—Santa Rosa, CA
I love all my roses, but as the Friends’ shrub curator, I would have to name ‘Sally Holmes’ as a rose worthy of preservation. It is not a particularly rare rose, but it is a keeper because of its beauty and toughness. It gets no diseases and can survive truly tough conditions. Although it is a 5 to 7 petal rose, it often blooms in clusters of 50 roses that are just spectacular. I have used just 3 branches to make a massive bouquet. It can be grown as a large, fountain shaped rose or as a climber. Also, it propagates quite easily from cuttings. It is a terrific example of the excellence of shrubs. (Photo by Susan Feichtmeir)

William Shakespeare Aus
Alice Waters—Berkeley, CA
“. . . and Othello.” (Photo by Beth Hana)

Xiangyun Pink Ch
Wang Guoliang—Nanjing, China
I have been working on finding, describing, studying, and preserving old roses in China. Your program of sending one rose a hundred years into the future is quite magnificent and meaningful. So I select carefully one from the massive rose collection of mine in China, for the candidate. It is “Xiangyun Pink,” an old Rosa odorata type, a reblooming rose cloned from a huge bush of about 400 years old, the oldest one still living in China. The details are on page 272 in Old Roses in China, my first book. The rose is a big bush, with shining and thick foliage, pointed, broad petals, flowers changing color with the season and within the season, blooming throughout the year, with a really strong tea-rose scent. At the end of last year, my new book, titled The Bible of Roses/Interpretation, was published. It became very quickly the best seller of the year, and won three awards—Salute to the Author, Best Seller of the year, and Best Author. To date, it has been reprinted five times. Now I am writing another book, a book compiling and describing all the old roses in China, and some abroad. (Photo by Wang Guoliang)