The Q&A Archives: Searching Old Cabbage Roses

Question: My family is from rural south western Pennsylvania. My mother and aunt have shared the joy of a fragrant plant they referred to as "Old Fashioned Cabbage Roses" with me. Many households grew these along the paths to outside privys to "freshen" the outhouse odors along the path. The rose is pink, has many petals, and is sprawling. It has lots of thorns and smells wonderful. I've checked books and the closest I've narrowed it down to the category of Centifolia rose. I have no idea if this is correct. It also isn't specific enough for me to order it anywhere.

1) Can you help me identify this lovely plant?

2) Can you help me locate a source so I can add it to my lane?

3) How can I propagate it?

I'd really appreciate your help. I've been searching for at least 5 years and getting no answers. I am frustrated but not willing to give up. We recently built a log home and I so wish to include this simple beauty in our landscape.

Answer: There are many many types and varieties of old fashioned roses and unfortunately, based on your description, I couldn't begin to tell you which specific one you seek. Many of them are pink and fragrant and many of them are "cabbage" shaped! However, there are a number of specialty firms dealing in old roses and I feel certain one of them will be able to help you. Here are three with web sites and photos to get you started:

<a href="">Heirloom Old Garden Roses</a>

<a href="">Vintage Gardens Antique Roses</a>

<a href="">Roseraie at Bayfields</a>

If you could find an actual plant in your family's old locale, you could propagate it by taking cuttings, layering or even (with permission of course) transplanting either suckers or an entire plant. This would really be the most certain way of obtaining the same rose. Good luck with your search!

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