Centifolias

Laura, Blanchefleur, Cristata

Centifolias were perhaps the first class of roses to be developed as a group of hybrid cultivars as far back as the late seventeenth century. They continued their popularity through the heyday of rose breeding in the early 19th century, possibly because of their splendid fragrance and charming floral form. These “hundred-petaled” roses with their globular flowers of fine petal texture gained the nickname early on of “Cabbage roses,” a name later loosely applied to many other very double roses, like the Hybrid Perpetuals.

Little is truly understood of this ancient group of roses. Professor Arthur Tucker suggests that Centifolia and Damask roses both figure in Roman paintings and perhaps even earlier. Cultivars and names abound in the modern nursery trade with little or no provenance. Brent Dickerson’s work on the subject demonstrates how 200 years ago new names were being bestowed on old forms of Centifolia as with Des Peintres.

habits

Arching growers to 6′ or more with a mix of fine and coarse prickles, large rounded foliage, usually neatly serrate at the edges, Centifolias have an informal draping habit of growth. We distinguish two general types (left to right, above).

  • (E.g., Centifolia Major) The common Centifolia.
  • (E.g., Spong) The dwarf Centifolia, which is denser, more upright, more compact.

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