clicking on this icon will always return you to this page

What's new

English Roses
Hyb. Bracteatas
Hyb. Musks
Hyb. Perpetuals

Hybrid Teas
Modern Shrubs
Moss Roses

Site Index


'Tuscany', also known as the Velvet Rose. Possibly pre-1596.

Tuscany'Tuscany' is likely one of the oldest surviving Gallicas. It is hard to say for certain, because there are few definitive written records to mark this rose' history. It is generally accepted that the description of the "Old Velvet Rose" in Gerard's The Herball or General Historie of Plantes is referring to Tuscany. This document dates to 1596. Therefore, we can be fairly certain that Tuscany dates to at least that date, very likely much further. Gerard's description refers to "branches covered with a certain hairy or prickley matter, fine as hairs..." which is certainly a definitive Gallica trait. Gallicas have no thorns to speak of, rather, they have fine prickles. He goes on to say that the blooms are "a deep and black red color, resembling red crimson velvet, whereupon some have called it the Velvet rose." Can this be any other than 'Tuscany', as none other by that color was described until the 1800's?

'Tuscany' is still one of the finest Gallicas we have today. It is a tidy spreading shrub of about 4 feet tall, and it is nearly indestructible. It is not at all susceptible to blackspot, and will only rarely mildew. (It has never Click here for a larger photo!done so in my gardens) It will sucker readily if grown on its own roots, so some of you may prefer to obtain grafted plants to avoid this. 'Tuscany' is very winter hardy, likely to beyond zone 4, and on its own roots it will likely survive for decades in relative neglect. I have seen old plants of 'Tuscany' growing in the Pacific Northwest that have been in place for at least 50 years, and they thrive in spite of poor conditions and lack of watering during the parching coastal summers. This rose is a survivor, and it is also very beautiful. There is almost no other (except perhaps its offfspring, 'Tuscany Superb') that offers the same extraordinary blackish crimson color. Click here or on the image at right to see a larger photo.

ARS merit rating: 8.6
Personal merit rating: 8.5
Hardiness: Likely USDA zones 3 to 8, zone 3 in a protected location.
Shrub size: 3 to 4 feet tall X 3 feet wide
Fragrance: 3.0, moderate scent.

Alain Blanchard seedling,
(see Song of the Stars)
Chianti Gloire de France Sissinghurst Castle
Alika Complicata Henri Fouquier Song of the Stars
Allegra (new 2003) Cramoisi Picotee Hippolyte Surpasse Tout
Belle de Crecy "Deep Purple" James Mason Tricolore de Flandre
Belle Isis Désirée Parmentier La Belle Sultane Tuscany
Belle sans Flatterie Duc de Guiche Marianne Tuscany Superb
"Brooks Purple" Duc de Fitzjames 'Mécène' Tuscany Superb X Othello
Camayeux Duchesse de Montebello Nestor Un-named seedling
"Carol's Favorite" Ellen Tofflemire Orpheline de Juillet "William Grant"
Charles de Mills Empress Josephine Rosa Mundi Ypsilante
Cardinal de Richelieu Gallicandy "Rush Family Rose"  

Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 2006, All Rights Reserved.