In their constant quest for more sales rose growers produce more and more new varieties each year. As a consequence many of the older varieties tend to be overlooked and falling demand means that it is no longer worthwhile for rose nurseries to grow them. While some of these old roses may no longer be available at garden centers or even specialist rose growers they can sometimes be recovered as Audrey Stallsmith explains in her article which I found on Dave’s Garden website.
No, we rose rustlers don’t make a practice of stealing other people’s roses, as if they were so many mavericks! We just root cuttings of heirloom types–usually found on abandoned farms or in old cemeteries–that may be in danger of dying out. Often their names have gotten lost somewhere along the way.
Years ago my mother took cuttings from a couple bushes on an old farm my uncle had purchased. You can see in the photo below that one of those roses was a fairly typical pink cabbage rose, the other a more unusual dusky type.Somebody told her that the latter was called the coffee rose.Although its flowers are certainly dark, they are more maroon than java-colored, and I haven’t been able to find any heirloom with that name.
I located the dark rose pictured in the thumbnail on local Game Commission property, also near where a house had once stood.Its blooms were much smaller and more tightly formed than my mother’s rose, and it’s a good thing I took cuttings of it when I did. Although the bush was still large back then, it seems to have disappeared from its original location during the intervening years, crowded out by encroaching trees and brush.(The Game Commission, of course, actually prefers its land to return to the wild!)
The rose I grew from those cuttings, on the other hand, has since expanded widely in my garden. I’ve never discovered its true name either, so I just call it Elderberry Wine, as the man who last owned that property was called Eldy. I’m just spelling his name the way it sounded to me when I was a child, which is probably how a lot of old roses came up with their peculiar monikers too. Perhaps “coffee” was originally a family name like “Caffree” or something similar?