The rose has always been the queen of gardens where we can find it as a bush, as a climber, raised as a sapling and with a wide diversity of flowers in terms of colour and shape (large or small, in bunches, panicles or solitary, single or double).
There are more than 30 spontaneous species in Italy including R. canina (the most common), R. gallica, R. glauca, R. pendulina or R. alpina (common in the Alps and northern Apennines) and R. sempervirens.
Roses are normally distinguished according to the following cataloguing:
- Botanical roses; they grow wild and are mostly non-flowering. They produce a lot of suckers and give rise to tangled bushes with long, flexible branches and flowers in shades of white and pink;
- Antique roses; classified according to historical, botanical and genetic parameters, with sometimes discordant results due to their often uncertain origin. The colours of antique roses range from white to all shades of pink, and on to crimson and violet, often flowering in a single, opulent bloom;
- Modern roses, born in 1867 thanks to the hybrid 'La France', have practically all the colours of the spectrum except dark blue, the inflorescence is usually prolonged until late autumn.
In Italy roses have played an important role in gardens since ancient Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire the cultivation of roses went into decline, being limited to the gardens of courts, nobility or convents.
Many Italian gardens began to be enriched with marvellous rose gardens, often with collectable species, as well as botanical gardens.
Apart from the ornamental aspect, it should be remembered that historically roses have also played a central role in agriculture; it is still a good rule to plant roses in vineyards at the beginning of the row of vines because they act as sentinels, being the first to show symptoms of any diseases.