Ring-a-ring o' roses

Old-fashioned roses are one of my many obsessions. Since I discovered last year that Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens has a 'Species Rose Collection', I've been waiting to visit during its main flowering season. I finally got my chance on Sunday, which was cool and cloudy and suitable for trekking through gardens, smelling all the roses.

The garden included some 'old garden roses' in amongst the wild/species roses. Old garden roses have the best and most intense scent (in my opinion), and they're shaped differently to modern roses. The many-petaled old roses are often quite flat when fully open, with an inner swirl of small petals:

The best-smelling rose in the garden! 'Félicité Parmentier', Alba type, 1834

Félicité is quite small, but very pretty

Because garden roses are propagated by cutting and grafting rather than by seed, all the roses of the same variety are technically part of the same plant. I think it's really cool that the 'Lamarque' rose on my balcony has been around since it was first bred in 1830, in people's gardens around the world.

More interesting, in terms of their variety in size and shape, were the wild or species roses in the collection. In general, they had simpler flowers than the garden roses - most of the wild varieties had 'single' flowers with five petals each. Bees prefer single roses, and one bush in particular was covered in bees! Many had white or very pale pink flowers, but one was bright red (Rosa moyesii), and a couple were yellow (Rosa xanthina and Rosa foetida). Some were downright weird, with giant prickles, or green flowers...

This was a major bee-magnet. I want one! Rosa forrestiana
It's a big bush, taller than Willie even

Rosa moyesii

So tiny! Rosa spinosissima (aka pimpinellifolia, aka Scotch Briar)

Rosa viridiflora (yup, that's a flower)

Serious prickles! Rosa sericea omniensis
Rosa Amyana cardiganensis