Originating with an 1802 Musk-China cross by John Champneys of Charleston, South Carolina (Champneys’ Pink Cluster), this group combined the broad, shrubby habit and scented large clusters of flowers seen in the Musk rose with the pink coloring, larger flowers and continuous bloom of the Chinas. Dozens of these old Noisette roses have been discovered in the South and West where they thrive, sometimes the differences being rather slight. This group gained its name from the French nurseryman brothers, the Noisettes, who took Champneys’ seedlings back to Europe and bred extensively from them with Tea roses. We have separated this Tea-influenced group of hybrids out and given them their own section in this catalogue, the Tea-Noisettes.
In the autumn of 2006 the International Heritage Rose Symposium convened in Charleston to honor and to investigate the Noisette roses, this unique and extraordinary group of roses which began in America. A notable feature of this conference was the creation of a study collection of the old Noisettes, in particular the types we discuss in this chapter, those simple, early types like Champneys’ Pink Cluster. As these old plants have been collected, their similarities have posed problems in distinguishing one from another. This study has shed light on this group and has begun the documentation of the old Noisettes. Plants have been sent from gardeners around the world to join this collection, and we hope that many of you will journey to Charleston to learn more about this historic rose family.