The Jiang Entian Heritage Rose Garden at Quarryhill, named for the mother of Mr. Dean Chen, a major sponsor of this garden, presents specimens from the various rose classes that evolved from the China roses, described and illustrated on several large signs. All roses are labeled with the name, class, introduction year, breeder, fragrance strength, and reblooming potential.
Climbing the arbor posts are 4 specimens of Rosa chinensis var. spontanea. These wild Quarryhill accessions, abundant in the main garden, represent the principal ancestor of the China roses and their descendents. Rosa odorata var. gigantea, source of the Tea rose influences found in our modern cultivars, also climbs on the arbor.
Three of the four China Stud roses are extant today and can be found at the inner most points of the garden’s center, closest to the fountain; a vacant spot at one point represents the still missing ‘Park’s Yellow Tea-Scented China’. In the central circle are included the Chinas and Teas, early classes directly stemming from the Asian imports of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The desirable China rose traits for European rose breeders of the time were:
1) repeat or perpetual (remontant) blooming from early or mid-summer to late autumn (depending on climate), at that time occurring in Europe only among the Autumn Damasks;
2) true crimson red coloring that did not fade with age (“red” roses prior to this time were probably deep or dark pink at their reddest, and not the true red of the China roses);
3) a lower, or “dwarf”, bushy habit. Two of the four China Studs, ‘Hume’s Blush Tea-Scented China’ (‘Spice’, in this garden) and the lost ‘Park’s Yellow Tea-Scented China” were strongly influenced by the Tea rose source, R. odorata. Their unique traits include young foliage in shades of plum, bronze and chartreuse, and silky, large-petaled, open flowers in a wide color palette, including yellow, copper, apricot and ivory.
The central area also contains several of the Bourbons, which originated from an accidental cross on the Ile de Bourbon (Réunion) between an “Old” (European) rose that contributed floral traits of fullness, color and scent, and a China rose, with traits of smooth foliage and repeat-blooming. Hybrid Perpetuals also appear in the garden’s center, a group resulting from crosses between European roses, such as the moderately repeat-blooming Portlands and Damask Perpetuals; as well as China rose descendents such as the once-blooming Hybrid Chinas (found north of the arbor); and Bourbons and Noisettes, resulting in some degree of repeat blooming while retaining cherished old rose traits. This group enjoyed rave popularity among the Victorians. Several Miniature Chinas round out this central area, early examples of a group to eventually number in the hundreds and intended for small gardens. Very dwarf and extremely twiggy, they present a pruning dilemma due to the accumulation of abundant deadwood.
In the outer circle of the garden are the Noisettes, Tea-Noisettes, Polyanthas and Floribundas, interspersed with numerous Hybrid Teas. This latter group, with countless varieties, reached the pinnacle of hybrid popularity, originating from crosses between Hybrid Perpetuals, which contributed hardiness and vigorous growth, and Teas, contributing their free-flowering habit, fine shape and delicate coloring. The Noisettes and Tea-Noisettes, from the early 1800’s, were derived from the stud rose ‘Parson’s Pink’ (‘Old Blush’) and probably the Musk Rose, R. moschata, of Europe. The Noisette ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’, found near the arbor, is a key parent of these groups, and was developed in the USA. The Polyanthas and their descendent Floribundas complete the outer circle, the former having densely clustered flowers derived from the East Asian species R. multiflora and R. wichuraiana crossed with Chinas and Teas, and the latter group resulting from further crosses with Hybrid Teas, creating varieties much larger in both stature and flower size, and with a new array of Tea rose colors.