The largest collection of roses in the world
30 Sept 2019
Europe Rose Garden Sangerhausen – Photo: Rosenstadt Sangerhausen GmbH/Karin Thom 4
The small city of Sangerhausen is located on the mountain slopes of Südharz, Germany. Every summer a sea of millions of blossoms await the visitors there, because this is where the largest collection of roses in the world is at home.
The rose garden in Sangerhausen has already been open since 1903. The aim: To counteract varieties and species of roses becoming extinct. Over the course of the decades a collection has arisen, the preservation and consistent extension of which constitute the important tasks of the establishment through to the present day. Currently 8,600 varieties and species of roses from different epochs and countries of the world are on display spread across 13 hectares of land. They are captivating every year again and again with their diversity of shapes, colours and fragrances. In 1993, the collection was awarded the title "Europe Rose Garden" and Sangerhausen was officially appointed the "Rose City" by the Association of German Rose Enthusiasts e.V. One is also particularly proud of the fact that the park was distinguished with the "Award of Garden Excellence" by the "World Federation of Rose Societies". This distinction is awarded to outstanding rose gardens worldwide.
Europe Rose Garden Sangerhausen – Photo: Rosenstadt Sangerhausen GmbH/Karin Thom 2
Gene bank and living museum
However, the Europe Rose Garden is not only a living museum that impressively presents the historic development of the rose from the wild varieties through to the modern species, it is also an important gene bank. In total, approx. 80,000 rose trees are planted in Sangerhausen. These include around 500 different varieties and forms of wild roses. The large number of climbing roses is also impressive: Every year from June onwards the 850 different varieties that are tied to pyramids and pillars lend the park its splendid appearance. The collection of roses in Sangerhausen is continually expanded. The main focus of the expansion of the collection is placed on new varieties, primarily on European and in particular German species. In addition to this, one works intensively on the completion of the groups of the varieties of wild roses and historic species.
Europe Rose Garden Sangerhausen – Photo: Rosenstadt Sangerhausen GmbH/Karin Thom 3
More and more garden owners have been taking an interest in historic roses over the past years. Due to their among other things mysterious origin they have a very romantic image, but also impress with their beauty and frequently enchanting scents. But what actually makes a variety one of the "old" ones, i.e. an historic rose? The year 1867 is a decisive year in this connection. It was when the 'La France' variety of rose was discovered in France. Because it was not bred selectively, one can only speculate about its origin: It is probably a crossbreed between a yellow tea rose imported from China and a repeat-flowering rose. 'La France' stands out because of its beautiful shrub shape and densely filled petals in shimmering silver pink. When they open they reach a diameter of around nine centimetres. At the time the fact that this tea hybrid blossomed reliably from June to October was something very special. In the history of rose breeding, 'La France' stands for the turning point between old and modern roses.
Today, all varieties that belong to classes that existed before the tea hybrids are referred to as "Old roses". These also include Gallica roses for example. It is assumed that some of these were already found in European gardens 2,500 years ago. The most well-known representative of this class is the rosa gallica 'officinalis', also known as the apothecary's rose. Alba roses with their pink or white petals, large thorns and dark leaves have also been part of our garden culture for a long time. The 'semiplena' species was evidently already well-known in ancient times and was repeatedly illustrated in botanic books during the Middle Ages. Damascene roses, which originally come from Central Asia, already decorated Dutch gardens in the 16th Century. All old varieties of roses descend from wild roses. When people discovered beautiful mutations or crossbreeds in the wild, they carried on cultivating them in their gardens. Targeted rose breeding didn't actually start until the beginning of the 19th Century.
Europe Rose Garden Sangerhausen – Photo: Rosenstadt Sangerhausen GmbH/Karin Thom 1