Purple Roses

A rare color for roses

Purple is a popular color in the garden, and there are many pretty purple perennials from which to choose. But true purple roses are rare, with a rarity similar to that of the coveted purple dye in the ancient world that gave the color its regal reputation and association with royalty, power, and wealth. Boldly hued, costly, and extravagant, purple fabrics and finery, and eventually all things purple, including flowers, were reserved for nobility and the imperial classes, whose members were referred to as “born in the purple.” Purple maintained this elite status for centuries and, subsequently, began to connote spirituality, wisdom, and bravery, connotations that still linger (consider the Purple Heart). Today, purple is often described as mysterious and imaginative, at times to the extreme. For example, highly imaginative or exaggerated writing is called “purple prose.” Purple is, and always has been, a powerful color with an exotic and mystical nature.

With the invention of modern synthetic dyes, purple fabrics are no longer rare; however, purple roses still are. Although lavender roses are more readily available, the intensely colored, dark, and sultry roses can be hard to come by. But the ones that do exist range in color from the darker fruity hues of plum purple and eggplant to the lighter shades of pearly purple and mauve that flirt shamelessly with pink. They make elegant cut bouquets and fantastic additions to mixed floral arrangements. Set against all the green foliage in the garden, purple is a natural for creating stunning complementary color schemes. Whether as hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, climbers, ground covers, or miniature roses, purple roses add depth, richness, and even a touch of mystery and majesty to home gardens. They can’t help it. It’s their legacy.