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Garden Rose Fragrance, Rediscovered

Hand someone a single rose, and what is the first thing they do? They lift it to their nose, eager to enjoy the fragrance. If that rose is an ordinary cut rose, they are all too often disappointed.

Fragrance, however, is one of the signature features—along with shapely, petal-rich blooms and a range of subtle, sophisticated hues—that distinguish the high-performing garden roses grown at Alexandra Farms, like Beatrice™ (Auslevity), pictured here.

There are good reasons why rose fragrance is so evocative. Did you know that of the five senses, smell is the only one where sensations are transmitted directly to the brain? That the sense of smell is neurologically linked to strong emotions and powerful memories? That rose scents are astonishingly varied and complex, comprising hundreds of aroma compounds and giving rise to a descriptive vocabulary not unlike that employed by wine connoisseurs?

Over the first part of the 20th century, rose breeders concentrated on enhancing qualities important to growers, like repeat flowering and disease resistance. Often, the trade off for those improvements was the loss of fragrance.

People used to think those trade offs were unavoidable—that fragrant roses were inevitably shorter-lived. And it’s true that in nature, rose fragrance grows stronger as the flower matures. Roses produce fragrance as part of their natural life cycle, releasing it only when the rose is ready to attract pollinators. That’s why garden roses from Alexandra Farms typically become more fragrant as they open wide.

But today, thanks to careful selection and advanced technology—along with best practices and meticulous expertise on the part of the grower—fragrant cut roses of the garden type can be enjoyed for ten days or longer in the vase. Likewise, when properly conditioned these roses hold up beautifully in hand-tied bouquets.

Watch for future articles in our series on fragrance to learn more about the world of scent and garden roses!


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