In general I love the Old Fashioned Roses - mostly (but not exclusively) the really old ones.
The point about Old Roses is that they are survivors. They have to be, in order to have kept on going over hundreds of years (thousands in some cases). Probably the oldest are the Gallicas, especially the one known as Rosa gallica officinalis - the Apothecaries' Rose. By all accounts it was introduced into England by the Romans, and was kept going by the herbalists in monasteries in mediaeval England.
What do I love about them, above all? Perfume.
Start with Kazanlik, if you like Perfumed Roses. It is delicious, with the scent from which Rose Water is extracted, and which scent you are familiar with if you have ever eaten Turkish Delight (the real stuff, that is). It is also delicious when its petals are dried for Potpourri.Fantin Latour looks wonderful grown amongst shrubs, in this case, its lovely pink flower appears from the blossoms of the Chinese Beauty Bush, Kolkwitzia amabilis. Its soft pink flowers are nearly thornless, which makes it easy to handle. A lovely cupped flower, with modest perfume.Some of the "old fashioned" roses, are very close to a species form - these are Japanese roses, the Rugosas. They grow in wild areas of Japan (apparently) , often close to the sea, and they are totally hardy to moisture, and diseases. Yet they flower prolifically (some repeat flower in autumn). The single forms are very good at forming large, round colourful rose heps (which the Rosellas and Bowerbirds love, in Robertson). More importantly, they are totally immune to wet summers (such as we get in Robertson). This is an impenetrable bush of "Belle Poitevine" a lovely semi-double Rugosa, which flowers prolifically.Here is the delightful Rosa rugosa "Scabrosa", with amazing healthy foliage and deep magenta single flowers, which have an "old-fashioned" rose perfume.
Here is an old French variety of "Gallica" rose, called Hippolyte. It has formed a large bank of shrubbery, with masses of neat, rounded flowers. As with many Gallicas, they darken as they age, into a near purple colour.Here is a close-up of a mature flower. It will darken from this, as it ages. A lovely flower.
Here is another Gallica, called La Belle Sultane (with a confusing story about its name). It is an unusual rose, with thin stems which wave like wands in the breeze. And it has remarkable flowers with deep purple flowers, and a light centre. It is not quite single, so lets call it a semi-double. It has a lovely form, once you get over the idea that all roses ought look like Peace or Mr Lincoln. They do not have to be like that, you know.And just to show my inconsistency, here is a modern, unscented rose, which I also love. It is a David Austin rose, "Wildflower" which does not appear to be in the list of available DA Roses, these days. Let me say that David Austin is so obsessed with the reputation of his roses that some early introductions have been "expunged from the record". "Wildflower" is such a rose. But I like it, for it has deliciously thick petals, of a consistency like parchment, and a colour of rich clotted cream. This is a small plant, but quite tough, for it is holding its own amongst the Blackberries (which shall be cut and painted shortly).