Rose History (From the origin of roses to our Modern roses)
The origin of roses and their early evolution is merely a matter of conjecture. Fossils seems to indicate that roses existed in prehistoric times and rose gardening probably began in China, some 5000 years ago. Over the centuries changes occurred in the genus Rosa either through natural or artificial hybridization.
Botanists seem to agree that roses of prehistoric times were of the single bloom type. Surprisingly the genus Rosa is found exclusively in certain zones of the northern hemisphere in the wild: in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and America.
During the Roman period, roses were grown extensively in the Middle East. Pliny the Elder devoted a large part of Book XXI of his Historia Naturalis to roses. Even though it is not always possible to attribute modern botanical names to ancient roses based on translations from original Greek and Latin texts, we are almost certain that the following roses existed in Roman times: R. canina, R. gallica, R. x alba R. x centifolia and R. x damascena. In Roman times roses were given as presents and used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes (rosatum or rose oil), and as a source of perfumed wine.
From the sixteenth century on roses were carefully selected, bred and improved to form new rose varieties, especially in Holland. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries roses enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, and many of the rose classics we admire today stem from that period.
New requirements, such as resistance to disease, excellent floral quality, and winter hardiness, lead to the development of modern shrub varieties and other modern roses of the twentieth century.