Dr. Albert Lee: All About Roses

Lafayette, Indiana, neurologist Dr. Albert Lee enjoys rose gardening in his spare time. Rose gardening is one of the few types of gardening that can become competitive, with breeders competing to win distinctions with new varieties of roses at national and international competitions. Rose gardening can also be as simple as planting a young bush where it will get plenty of sunlight, watering it, and watching it bloom.

There are many classification systems for dividing roses by type, but one of the most widely accepted is the system used by the American Rose Society, in conjunction with the World Federation of Roses. It classifies them across three categories: “species roses,” which predate human efforts at controlled breeding, “old garden roses,” typically the classification for any deliberately created variety older than 1867, and “modern roses,” which are all the varieties made since that year.

Unlike vegetable and herb plants, a rose bush, with its tough, woody branches, can survive for centuries and will continue to spread and grow year by year. The oldest rose bush in the world, at the apse of a cathedral in Hildesheim, Germany, is generally believed to be roughly 1,000 years old.


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