Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas, and Memories of Roses

Romantic tumble of roses at the Antique Rose Emporium

A free-to-visit garden is not to be sniffed at – but then again, some of them are. Few visitors to a rose garden can resist leaning in to inhale the fragrance. We seem hard-wired to think ‘scent’ the moment after we think ‘rose’.

Shakespeare’s ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ can’t take all the credit. Scent associations trap memories like flies in amber in a lifetime’s layering of impressions.

Shrub and antique roses
Ivory, pink, salmon and apricot roses

My own layers include years working alongside a major rose garden, but the seed took root as a child.

For example, being allowed in to Mama’s tiny, v-shaped rose garden which became increasingly hazardous to small people as summer ripened the roses to overspilling the path. I don’t remember smelling the roses, or even the sight of tumbling flowers, more the eye-level tangle of thorny foliage. But I must have smelled them, often, as I only have to linger over the thought of a rose’s scent to be taken back there, peeping over the garden gate.

Apricot rose

Then there’s Dad leaving rose petals in jam jars of water in a sunny windowsill to make rose water and encouraging my sister and me to savour its sweet spiciness. Wild roses encountered on young rambles in the Lancashire countryside.

Our own, equally tiny garden, crammed with the classics of the time, Rosa ‘Peace’, Rosa ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and a pretty pink, cream and yellow floribunda growing over lily of the valley, violas and Welsh poppies. Mum’s lovely summer bud vases of English Roses cut from her garden that drop their petals too soon with a sigh. You could say roses are a family thing.

Garden vista
Garden vista

Over the last decade, rare visits to the Antique Rose Emporium have added a Texan flavour to my lifetime’s rose layers. The sheer quality of light is memorable, before we even start on the roses.

Plant benches
Benches full of companion plants for roses

There’s an argument that the best garden centre is the one closest to your doorstep, but some are more of a joy to visit, much more memorable.

Regular readers may remember that my favourite nurseries all maintain display gardens. The Antique Rose Emporium’s garden is designed to show us ways to grow roses and how to combine them with other plants.

Red roses with double poppies and larkspur
Red roses with double poppies and larkspur
Flower border in April
April highlights: it wouldn’t be Texas without bluebonnets
Rambling roses trail over the gazebo railings
Rambling roses trail over the gazebo railings
Rosa 'Peggy Martin'
Rosa ‘Peggy Martin’

Lovers of Antique Roses (usually called Old or Heritage Roses in the UK) will find soul-mates in Brenham, of the human and plant varieties. While some of the plants on offer are rare, others are widely grown.

Pale pink antique roses
Pale pink antique rose

Survivor roses would not still be with us were they not full of character, disease-resistant and trouble free. They are more likely to be scented.

Rosa 'Marchesa Boccella'
Rosa ‘Marchesa Boccella’ has a strong, rich fragrance

The pictures here are from visits to the Antique Rose Emporium in April and November. As always, the roses, where named, are offered for sighing over, not as recommendations. Different climates call for different varieties and I’ll leave all that firmly with the experts.

Rosa 'Penelope'
Rosa ‘Penelope’

Rose lovers would say roses are not plants we grow, they’re plants we live with, each with their own character. I seem to see hints of that in the pictures.

Salmon pink rose
Salmon pink rose
Rosa 'Perle d'Or'
Rosa ‘Perle d’Or’
Antique roses
Ruffled rose with button eye
November roses
November roses
Rosa 'Cornelia'
Rosa ‘Cornelia’
Rosa 'Graham Thomas'
Rosa ‘Graham Thomas’
Rose with beetle
The display gardens attract beetles, butterflies and bees
Pink rambling rose
Pink rambling rose

Since roses are associated with romance, the Antique Rose Emporium has a chapel where weddings and anniversaries can be celebrated. Rose festivals are held there too in happier times.

Antique Rose Emporium Chapel
The Chapel is a popular wedding venue

Antique Rose Emporium Chapel with daylilies

Rose posy on a decorative plinth
Rose posy on one of two decorative plinths at the Chapel entrance

Flower arrangement with roses

The daisies in the background (Chrysanthemum x rubellum ‘Clara Curtis’) made it over to Texas from their ‘birthplace’, Happy Valley in Llandudno, Wales, where we often went for family holidays. It’s a small world!

Even if roses are not your thing, there are still many attractions. I recently shared a picture of the path maze and you’ll find a good sprinkling of garden art.

To find out more, check out the Antique Rose Emporium’s website and add them to your to-visit list, for if you’re ever in the area. I’m confident you’ll have as happy a time there as my sweetheart and I always do.

The address of the nursery and garden is:
Antique Rose Emporium, 10000 FM 50, Brenham, Texas 77833
Please check the website for opening times.

38 Replies to “Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas, and Memories of Roses”

  1. So here I am, a Texan and all, and I had no idea this place exists. When I think about Brenham, it’s the Blue Bell Creamery that comes to mind — a pleasure to be tasted, rather than inhaled. The photos are gorgeous. Once the weather has warmed and the roses are blooming, it would only make sense to visit Brenham and enjoy both the garden and the ice cream.

    1. Pretty much a treat for all five senses then! I’ve driven past the creamery, but never thought to check if you could visit it. My main food focus when I go there is Royers Pie Haven.

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