Recently I was watching a podcast on Heritage Roses and in it one comment was made which shocked me a bit and started me thinking.

The comment made was ‘there is not a clear definition what a Heritage rose is but each country decides its own classification. In Australia a rose older than 75 years is classified Heritage’.

I know there must be a clear distinction on what a Heritage Rose is but how does this classification work with known old roses and those that are nearing the entry date?

For me this does not seem right. According to the classification in one year, 2025, ‘Peace’ can be classified as a Heritage Rose the same as Cardinal Richelieu, Rose Mundi or Jacques Cartier. How can this be?

For me I believe clearer classifications need to be made.

What I suggest is creating a core of roses to be known as Heritage Roses which fit into these fields.

  1. Rose must have been developed or found prior to 1900.
  2. Rose must be one of the classic 5 old rose flower types.
  3. Rose must fit into one of the 17 known main ‘families’.

I hope this will cover almost all known Heritage Roses. After this initial identification of true Heritage Roses other ‘affiliate’ groups are now added.

  1. Roses bred using known family members but of modern breeding. These could be called “Heritage Hybrids’
  2. Roses that possess the classic 5 flower forms but of modern breeding. These could be called ‘Heritage Classics’. Mainly roses bred by David Austin but not exclusively from his company.
  3. Roses that are now 75 years from date of introduction. These could be called ‘Heritage Nostalgia’ or ‘Heritage Renaissance’.

I hope this may start others thinking about what makes a Heritage Rose. That the true classical old Teas, Gallicas, Hybrid Perpetuals or Portland should not be mixed up with Peace, Papa Meilland or Talisman and not too much further into the future varieties like Iceberg and later Just Joey.

I am sure all who love what makes a Heritage Rose are unlikely to adopt these formal flowering cousins as part of the Heritage family and we need to lead the world into forming clear, accurate definitions on what Australia classifies as a Heritage Rose and let all others follow.


Created  27/10/2023