Roses - Just Plain Old-Fashioned?

 Such a pretty old rose.
Mutabilis Rose

I've made a startling discovery regarding 'old roses', which I've always called 'old-fashioned'. I had a vague idea as to which of my garden roses were eligible. Oops - I didn't realise that the classification was so debatable.

Before 1867? You're Old!

For example, all roses before the breeding of the first hybrid tea in 1867 can be classified as 'old'. Or I can use the floating scale applied to automobiles (and people) - if it's older than fifty years, then it's old! This obviously affects all my Hybrid Musks and several of my Rugosas (not to mention the Head Gardener herself).

Some rose writers suggest if it looks old then that's what it gets called, but this seems rather too subjective. My best friends don't look 'old', yet some of them are numerically more aged than I am! Oops...

Vintage or Antique?

Maybe my older roses might like being 'vintage' or 'antique'. I'm not so keen on being 'vintage' myself - though as Head Gardeners go I'm long-lasting, and often rickety and slow-moving, with steam coming out of my ears... There isn't an exact antique rose definition, and I would never call a rose 'old' simply because it has the old fashioned look.

 A beautiful striped rose.
Honorine de Brabant

I like the word 'heritage' - it implies a gentle passing of time, the nurturing of memory, and so on. And, of course, there are terribly serious heritage things - like tomatoes, seeds and plants saved from horticultural extinction. My local Heritage Rose society talks about 'ensuring the preservation and continued existence of old roses which are living antiques'.

A Random Rose Rescuer

One tries so hard to be well organised and not give out misinformation, whether in the real or virtual garden world. And this 'one' is not a rosarian but merely a random collector and rescuer of roses. My rose pages, with photographs, are offered for general consumption, and I should try and get it right.

 She has two very distinct flowering times.
Danae Rose

So I'm back to square one - what definition am I going to adopt? I'm sticking with pre and post 1867, but I'm going to find dates of introduction for all my roses, to show I'm taking rose classification seriously. By the way, this means that I'm a thoroughly 'modern' Head Gardener - by about 150 years...