Rosa ‘Queen of Denmark’ | Pink Alba Rose

Rosa Queen of Denmark | Pink Alba Rose with long sepals
This old rose has full, flat, quartered blooms

I’m aware that rose cultivars achieve something approaching immortality when small parts of the plant are passed from person to person down the generations, but it still seems amazing to think that Rosa ‘Queen Of Denmark’ has been around since 1816.

Its bicentenary came and went with less fanfare than that accorded a human queen, but the important thing is that people are quietly growing it around the world. You may know it as Rosa ‘Königin von Dänemark’.

Rosa Queen of Denmark's buds have long feathered sepals
The green sepals are unusually long and feathered

It’s easy to see why this rose has lasted. It’s a classic. The medium sized blooms are full, flat and a touch on the scruffy side, adding a voluptuous quality. Did I mention the scent? It’s strong and rich, as Albas tend to be.

A pink old rose with many petals

While the flowers are traditionally described as ‘quartered’, when fully open they typically have five or six sections that loop around a glimpse of stamens at the centre.

Albas can be dated back to the middle ages. Devotees of Old Roses (also called Heritage Roses or Antique Roses) have helped them weather the storms of fashion and outlast many thousands of new introductions, despite the clear preference of most gardeners for repeat flowering varieties. It makes sense that the Albas that have come down to us don’t need much fussing. They tolerate partial shade better than most roses.

Pink rose bud with long feathery sepals

The parts of Rosa ‘Queen of Denmark’ I like best are the sepals (the green bits that protect the bud). They are longer than the bud with ferny or feathery appendages, and curl out around it with a cheerful flick.

My pictures are from Whitehall Park, in Darwen, where volunteers care for a small rose garden tucked away where not everyone will find it. It has all the ingredients you’d want in a rose garden, including a good mix of shrubs, climbers and companion plants; structures to give height; and places to linger. The little garden’s character has a naturalness, a sense of wildness, helped along by the roses themselves, despite them having great pedigrees. It is a little on the shady side: Darwen’s blessings have rarely included abundant sunshine. A cream coloured variety grows there that produces several twisted green buds in the centre of each flower. I’ll perhaps share some pictures of that one later, but I warn you, it’s funny looking.

36 Replies to “Rosa ‘Queen of Denmark’ | Pink Alba Rose”

  1. I looked up Darwen and found it’s very close to Blackburn, in Lancashire. That immediately reminded me of John Lennon’s song “Day in the Life,” which spoke of “four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire.” What got me searching in the first place was the question of whether Darwen and Darwin are merely variants of the same name. Apparently not, according to ancestry.com:

    https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=darwin

    1. My sweetheart was delighted to see a butter pie for sale here – I think he had heard of those in a Beatles song too. The oak derivation is the one I’m familiar with.

  2. First I must catch my breath, which was taken from me by the buds. If a bud can be described as extravagant, then that’s what these are. I particularly love the two peeking out in the top photo. To paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan, they really know their worth. Those sepals have a ballet-like quality. So lovely! Thank you for the lift!

  3. Those sepals are remarkable and I was thinking how much I liked them when I reached the paragraph saying you did too.

    Any rose with a beautiful perfume is a treasure in my mind as so many roses in plant nurseries these days don’t have a smell at all.

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