Rosa gallica officinalis is considered the first rose cultivated in a garden setting.
It is called the apothecary’s rose. Rosa gallica var. officinalis is a rose intertwined with human history. Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans reportedly grew this rose because it was believed to have great medicinal attributes. It was used for medicinal purposes and fragrance in the 9th century.
Rosa gallica’s flowers can range from deep pink-red to clear pink. Yellow stamens juxtapose with the pink petals beautifully. It would be wonderful planted in a cottage garden, or maybe outside castle walls.
Flowers are semi-double with nine to sixteen petals. Foliage has excellent disease resistance. Gallica roses bloom once per season.
With many of the old roses, one trades constant bloom for good health.
Rosa gallica is considered somewhat shade-tolerant. Even roses that can handle partial shade will bloom better with more sun. The fragrance is described as moderate to excellent. It certainly will not perfume an entire garden.
Gallica roses tend to be very easy to grow. I recommend rich soil with good drainage. Gallica roses can handle both sandy and heavy clay soils with relative ease. Pests and disease are not an issue. It is an excellent choice for no-spray gardens.
Common name(s): Apothecary’s rose, red rose of Lancaster
Rose Class: species, Gallica
Size: 4′ x 4′ tall/wide
Disease resistance: Extremely disease resistant
Fragrance: Moderate to good fragrance
Bloom period: Late spring/early summer (mid-summer in cooler climates in the US and Europe).
Winter hardiness: 3b-8
Of note: Historic rose colored deep pink to red. It is extremely cold tolerant. It is a good choice for gardeners in regions with harsh winters. Blooms once per season in late spring or early summer (early June in Georgia). Shade tolerant. Hips are present in fall but are small.