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Old Garden Roses & Shrubs


The Committee Chairman, as appointed for the term 2015-2018 by ARS President Pat Shanley, is Gene Waering. Committee members are: Marilyn Wellan, Maria Cecilia Freeman, Jay Hiers, Malcolm Manners, Clair Martin, Bobbi Reed, Shirley Teerlink and Girija Viraraghavan.

Purpose and Goals

The American Rose Society Old Garden Rose and Shrub Committee, a standing committee of ARS, will work with the ARS Classification, Registration, Judging or other appropriate Committees of the American Rose Society and other organizations in the conservation, preservation and identification of Old Garden Roses and Shrub Roses; and will work to increase the prestige and creditability of the American Rose Society as a leader in American Horticulture. The committee will champion the benefits and landscape worthiness of Old Garden Roses and Shrub Roses to both the ARS general membership and the American gardener/homeowner. (from the ARS Old Garden Rose & Shrub Committee Charter)


What is an old garden rose?

As the International Registration Authority for Roses (IRAR), in 1966, the American Rose Society defined old garden roses as those types (classes) that existed prior to 1867, the year of introduction of the very first hybrid tea, ‘La France’. Within this generic definition, a number of popular subdivisionsexist based on natural historical developments and characteristics. The flower form can be quartered, cupped, imbricated or expanded, reflexed, globular or compact. After an initial spring crop of blooms, some varieties may produce no more flowers the rest of the year, but their hip production does add a different kind of beauty to the garden. The beauty of the old garden roses often lies in the heavy fragrance they can impart to the garden.

What are species roses?

The American Rose Society places species roses in their own classification, under the Genus Rosa.

Species Roses (Sp) Often referred to as “wild roses,” species roses are usually single-petaled (4-8 petals, once-blooming and have a bush size ranging from 2 to 20 feet. They are listed according to their Latin names, beginning with R. for Rosa and can have common synonyms. For example, R. foetida bicolor is also known as ‘Austrian Copper’. (Ex. R. banksiae lutea, Sp., light yellow, double, about 1824)

What are shrub roses?

The American Rose Society has established a specific Shrub class to include a large, diverse group of roses, none of which predate 1867, or fit easily into the already established classes. Roses that fall into the Shrub classification are therefore not Old Garden Roses; they are grouped under the Genus Rosaunder “Modern Roses.” There is considerable interest in the large and growing family of rose varieties that are grouped into the Shrub class. They are included by the OGR & Shrub Committee, in the area of interest with old garden roses, because their growth habits are often similar to those of Old Garden Roses.

There are two groups and five subdivisions within the class: Hybrid Kordesii, Hybrid Moyesii, Hybrid Musk, Hybrid Rugosa – the “Classic Shrubs”, and those simply classified as “Shrubs” or “Modern Shrubs.” The latter includes the introductions of David Austin, Dr. Griffith Buck, Mike Shoup and others.

CLASSIFICATION (Click here to see list).


What are the American Rose Society awards for old garden roses?

Briefly, there are classes specifically for old garden roses in ARS and ARS sanctioned rose shows. There are usually three classes: one for species; another for OGR varieties in existence before 1867 and another for OGR varieties that were identified in 1867 and after. These classes are to accommodate the three highest awards:

  • The Genesis Award is presented to the best blue-ribbon winning species rose. (If a rose show does not offer a species class, these varieties may be entered in the OGR sections.)

  • The Dowager Queen Award was established by ARS to honor the living antiques of the rose world and is awarded to the best blue-ribbon winning old garden rose variety introduced prior to 1867.

  • The Victorian Rose Award is awarded to the best blue-ribbon winning Old Garden Rose introduced in 1867 or later.

Before a specimen is considered for one of the above top awards, it must first compete with all other entries of the same variety. After all entries in the above three classes have been judged, the blue ribbon winners of each variety are judged for the three top awards, according to their dates of introduction.

What are the American Rose Society awards for shrubs?

Best Classic Shrub Best Modern Shrub


  1. Local Rose Societies are affiliates of the American Rose Society. They offer individual help for growing old garden roses (and other roses) through the ARS Consulting Rosarian program. A list of Consulting Rosarians can be found here. Local societies often offer programming on growing old garden roses as well as timely tips on growing roses at meetings and through local newsletters. Consult the ARS list for a Local Rose Society near you to learn their programming schedule. Better still, become a member of the Local Rose Society in your area.

  2. Join the American Rose Society, where the American Rose, the American Rose Annual and other publications, sources, discounts and other resources will be available to you, to help with growing all roses, including those classed as old garden roses and shrubs.

  3. The 18 districts of the American Rose Society have each named old garden rose and shrub “specialists,” who are representatives of this committee and who are available to help with rose growing questions.

  4. Attend a rose show near you; view the varieties on exhibit and choose your favorites; talk with some of the exhibitors about your interest in old garden roses.

  5. Watch for interesting articles and great photos to be found in the quarterly e-publication on the ARS website, the Old Garden Rose & Shrub Journal.

  6. Join other organizations that specialize in old garden roses. (List)


American Rose Society members are fortunate to be delivered a “Nursery Guide” listing nurseries and sources where old garden roses may be purchased. The list is published annually in the January-February issue of ARS member’s magazine, American Rose. Some of the nurseries listed in the “Nursery Guide” offer generous discounts to ARS members.

Visit your local nurseries and garden centers and ask for old garden roses and shrub roses. Look through their stock for varieties of interest to you.

Contact Local Rose Societies to learn where old garden roses and shrub roses are available near you. Some Local Rose Societies offer roses for sale at garden shows, fairs and special garden events.

Many nurseries and rose suppliers offer catalogs and will ship roses directly to your door.



This quarterly bulletin is available to members here.


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