True damask fragrance into modern hybrids.

Although many roses are listed having damask fragrances, to me there isn’t anything like the damask perfume. To me, I’ve always detected distinctly fruity, citrusy notes mixed with the damask perfume of modern rose hybrids such as Crimson Glory. Not even Gertrude Jeckyll, whose parent is a Portland rose very closely related with the damasks, doesn’t have the real aroma of damasks such as Kazalik (my most favorite damask)… To me, there something very distinctly modern about the scent. Perhaps that it maybe worthwhile to cross damask roses with fragrant hybrid teas and floribundas, or more better, English roses such as Gertrude Jeckyll. It would be so great to get a rose that has the true damask scent and repeat bloom.


The closest possible to what you are looking for

are the pink Hybrid Perpetuals bred before 1859

(and some later, like “John Hopper”, 1862).

As they are mainly issued from China & Damasks Perpetuals,

crossings modern Roses with Damasks could give you

something to be compared.

Best wishes,


Beware: ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ breeds total junk. Mildew prone, weak, junk seedlings. Go back to the Portlands or the Hybrid Perpetuals, as Pierre has suggested.



I agreed with you that modern roses that have “true damask” scent do not smell like Damask roses.

This year I have a number of crosses beginning to germinate using La Reine, Baron Prevost, Rose du Roi and Rose de Rescht as the seed parents. They were crossed with various Austins, mostly Mary Rose and The Squire. I also used a modern striped pollen mix just to see what I got.

La Reine and Rose du Roi produced quite a few seeds and are germinating well. Baron Prevost and Rose de Rescht didn’t seem to take the pollen well and produced much fewer seeds. I tried pollinating John Hopper as well but the hips dropped after a couple of months.



What did you try on “John Hopper”?

“Rose du Roi” as seed, this is very interesting.

As a pollen parent, this one seems not very powerfull.

(I need to get rid of its first flush to pollinate

two successfull hips!)

Best wishes,


Thanks Pierre, I am looking for John Hopper at this very moment. After I’ve talked with a few people and heard many good things. I have G

Well Enrique,

The G

Im not a big OGR fan but the discussion was interesting so I looked it up. Why not use what Austin started with since it does produce damask (I think?) in Gertrude Jekyll? Which would be Comte de Chambord. It seems to be the pollen parent for both of Austin’s creations concerning Comte de Chambord.


Yes Mike,

Comte de Chambord is an excellent rose, no doubt.

But why not try something else? I’d favor “Rose du Roi”

tough it’s not an easy one to use, because it is the “purest” Portland we have, next to the Duchesse

de Portland herself.

If I am right, Paul Barden has had excellent results with "Marbr

Hey Pierre, very true. Like I said before my OGR (excluding shrubs, polyanthas and species) collection is limited but this discussion is very enlightening as well as intriguing. I wonder if Rose de Rescht would be compatible with something like Rosarium Uetersen or Red Eden to combine moderate climbers with old fashioned romance and a unique scent. So many possibilities :slight_smile:


Well Mike,

I personally prefer not to cross OGRs with modern roses, but with species or other OGRs.

This for a simple reason plus a complex one:

-My “terroir” is not “Modern-friendly” (too much China and Tea blood)

-Modern roses are horribly complex Hybrids (At least

the HTs, Floribunda and the like)

I prefer to try things like, say, one of the latest

(waiting in the garage) Eug

Title: Is it possible to transfer aroma from Rosa damascena to hybrid tea rose cultivars by hybridisation?

Authors: Chimonidou, Dora; Bolla, Androniki; Pitta, Christina; Vassiliou, Loukia; Kyriakou, G.; Put, Henriette M. C.

Authors affiliation: Agricultural Research Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus.

Published in: Acta Horticulturae (2007), volumn 751, pages 299-304.

Abstract: “A joint Program between Cyprus and Greece, founded by the Cyprus Research Foundations (2004-2007), was initiated with the objective of studying the possibility of transferring aroma from Rosa damascena to hybrid tea rose cultivars by hybridization. Rosa damascena is one of the three species that are predominantly used in the prodn. of rose oils and rose exts., whereas the modern rose cultivars (e.g. tea hybrids obtained by crossing tea roses and remontant roses) are exclusively cultivated for the floriculture and nursery industries. The target of this program, is the combination of the characteristics of hybrid tea roses (stem length, flower bud, vase life) with the aroma of Rosa damascena. R. damascena and the rose cultivars ‘Bettina’, ‘Papa Meilland’, ‘Virgo’ and ‘Kabouki’, were propagated by cuttings (Oct.-Nov. 2004), placed in a greenhouse at the Agricultural Research Institute - Nicosia and managed culturally as to have continual blooming. The chem. compn. of essential oils of Rosa damascena has shown that the main components are Citronellol and Geraniol. In the three years duration of the program, we expect to have the new hybrids and det. their chem. components, since there is evidence that compds. to be detected in high concns. are not necessarily the most efficient ones to express the scent.”

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Another reason to hybridize with Damasks to impart scent, if it can be done, is that some of the earliest Damasks seem very heat and drought-tolerant. Check the physical geography of the regions in which the older Damasks (like Kazanlik, Celsiana, even Gloire de Guilan) are grown for attar and rose water (Bulgaria through Turkey to Iran). I suspect geography (and R. fedtchenkoana) explains how early damasks tolerate the heat here on the 38th parallel so much better than many Old European OGR’s and their hybrids. We were treated to 4 or 5 days of 100℉/38℃ in early May, and the Damasks bloomed as long as normal. The HP’s and especially the Gallicas crisped within a day.

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