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Rosa gallica is the oldest Rose of European civilisation. The single flowers are pink or crimson and the plant reaches a height of 4 ft. Rosa moschata, the Musk Rose, is native to India and China and has large clusters of small cream flowers, the plant making a huge thicket of growth 15 ft. high.
From Asia Minor comes the Damask Rose (Rosa damascena) from which Attar of Roses is derived, with double pink to red flowers. These species, together with England's Dog Rose ( Rosa canina ) were the ancient Roses of Europe.
From China, in the 18th century, came Rosa chinensis, a red Rose which was perpetual flowering, from June to September. It was crossed and recrossed with the existing types, giving rise to the perpetual-flowering hybrid China Roses. One of these, known as Tarson's Pink China' was crossed with 'Pink Autumn Damask' in 1817 and gave rise to the first of the Bourbon Roses, so called because this work was carried out on the French Island of Bourbon. These were highly scented, flowered for a long time, and were really the first of that great class of Roses known as Hybrid Perpetuals.
Further hybridising between the Bourbons and the scented China Roses in the 19th century produced first the Noisettes, and then the very popular Tea Roses. These rather delicate Roses were then crossed with the more vigorous of Hybrid Perpetuals to produce that famous class of Roses known as the Hybrid Teas.
The early Hybrid Teas did not have the brilliant shades of yellow, orange and apricot that make our modern Roses so attractive, but in 1900 Pernet Ducher produced his famous 'Soleil d'Or' by crossing the Persian Yellow (R. foetida) with Hybrid Perpetuals. This outstanding introduction was used to improve the range of colours in the Hybrid Teas.
Mention must be made of one other species from China, R. multiflora, a vigorous plant that has a climbing habit and produces masses of small white, sweetly scented flowers. Dwarf seedlings of this Rose were crossed with R. chinensis and gave rise to the popular Polyantha Pompons such as 'Edith Cavell' and 'Coral Cluster'. Other seedlings, which retained the vigour of R. multiflora produced the Polyantha Climbers such as 'Paul's Scarlet Climber'. When Poulsen of Denmark crossed the Polyantha Pompons with the Hybrid Teas he developed an entirely new class of Roses. These were originally called Hybrid Polyantha but are now known as Floribundas.
R. wichuraiana, from Japan, also has a rambling habit and was crossed with R. multiflora and the Hybrid Teas to give the true ramblers like 'Dorothy Perkins' and 'American Pillar'.
Finally, there are the Climbing Teas. Owing to the mixed ancestry of the Hybrid Teas a variety occasionally changes its habit from the bush form to that of a climber. It is really a climbing sport, and combines the useful climbing habit with the handsome blooms of the typical Hybrid Tea.