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Award of Merit Article

Belle de Crecy

by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian

One of the least common colors to see in most rose gardens is purple – in any of its forms, from very pale lavender to dark, grapey purple. It is a shame, since there are many wonderful roses that cross this color range. A number of the popular roses that fall into this color category are very fragrant as well. Have you ever sniffed the intense citrus fragrance of Intrigue, the velvety deep purple floribunda? Or inhaled the potent scent from Barbara Streisand? How about the perfume of Angel Face, the mauve, ruffled floribunda? And of course, one of the roses that many people plant as their first rose, Sterling Silver, is a very fragrant rose (though keep in mind this rose has an ARS rating of 4.5!)

One of the curious things about the purple roses that are in commerce is that they are all classified by the America Rose Society as mauve or mauve blend. For some reason, the name “mauve” doesn’t sound very “purple” to me. It also doesn’t seem to describe the range of color from pale lavender to deep purple.

Many of the highly rated roses in this color class are hybrid Gallicas that date back to the nineteenth century. There is surely a purple rose to fit just about any taste – both in size and color, from huge climbers like Veilchenblau to the dainty Sweet Chariot. The list below contains a baker’s dozen purple roses that have an ARS rating of 8.0 or higher.

Name Type Color ARS Rating Year Introduced
R. rugosa rubra Species Mauve 9.2 1784
Rugosa magnifica Hybrid Rugosa Mauve 9.0 1905
Tuscany Hybrid Gallica Mauve 8.6 before 1867
Escapade Floribunda Mauve 8.6 1967
Alain Blanchard Hybrid Gallica Mauve 8.5 1839
Silver Star Hybrid Tea Mauve 8.5 1966
Lavender Dream Shrub Mauve 8.4 1984
Ruby Pendant Miniature Mauve 8.4 1979
Sweet Chariot Miniature Mauve 8.4 1984
Veilchenblau Hybrid Multiflora Mauve 8.3 1909
Reine des Violettes Hybrid Perpetual Mauve 8.2 11860
Belle de Crecy Hybrid Gallica Mauve 8.1 before 1829
Lavender Lassie Hybrid Musk Mauve 8.1 1960

There are lots of new roses in this color class that are sure to get high ratings once they have been around for awhile. The recent NCNH District “Roses in Review” include: Cotillion, Floribunda, 7.8; Purple Passion, Hybrid Tea, 7.6; World War II Memorial Rose, Hybrid Tea, 7.6; Demitasse, Miniature, 7.9; and Outta the Blue, Shrub, 7.9. If you don’t have any purple in your rose bed, now is a great time to add one.

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Last Modified: 08/06/2013