Wild Roses: Musk Rose
The musk rose is a highly scented rose that is probably an ancestor of today’s hybrid musks. The story behind this plant is not exactly known. It is believed that it may have first originated in the Himalyas region – that would explain why it is very tolerant of colder climates.
It has been grown domestically for hundreds of years, but was only first brought to the attention of Western civilization in the 1500s. It spread from Italy to the rest of Europe. Graham Thomas is the man generally credited with reviving interest in the flower. Many of the English hybrid musk varieties that were later introduced are presumed to have been created using his specimens.
It also was valued for its laxative/purgative properties.
The main attraction of the musk rose is, of course, the fragrance. The deep scent carries so well that ended up being a popular parent plant for a whole class of fragrant hybrids. It also blooms for a very long time, much longer than most antiques.
It has properties of both a climber and a shrub rose so it can do well in a variety of areas. It can be trained as well, and thus looks great on a wall where the long branches can spread the scent. The blooms start in mid-summer and can last all the way into the early fall periods.
You may see different versions of this in the US, with a Plena and Temple variety having larger flowers.
This is fairly rare to find in most household gardens, but it is making a comeback. Besides the scent, the fact that it only has a few thorns makes it a gardeners choice. Its rated for zone 4 to zone 7, so it is very winter hardy, probably due to its history as a mountain flower.