Checking out blooming habits

Back when roses were first introduced into cultivation, they tended to throw a great late-spring or early-summer show. And then it was over. Gardeners didn't see this tendency as a problem. People were so taken with the beauty and fragrance of the rose blossoms that they didn't complain. These early rose varieties were usually full-petaled (full of so many petals that you could rarely see the center of the rose) and richly fragrant.

Many spring bloomers are still in commerce to this day, and they're well worth growing. Spring bloomers are full of splendor and romance, their short period of glory notwithstanding. They're generally called old garden or vintage roses. Sometimes their French or Italian-sounding name is a giveaway. (For more information on these lovelies, read the upcoming "Species and old garden roses" section.)

Roses that don't just bloom in late spring or early summer and finish are a modern development. (The year 1867 was the benchmark with the introduction of the first hybrid tea rose, 'La France.') Repeat-bloom roses don't actually bloom nonstop; if you observe carefully, you may notice that they cycle in and out of bloom.

Assured blooming cycles, shortened gaps between them, and longer-lasting blossoms are all the result of a long, complex, and varied genetic background and many different and protracted breeding programs, both in America and abroad. All you really need to know is that many modern roses can produce blossoms for you all summer long and often well into fall. How many other flowering shrubs, or even flowering perennials, can claim that?

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