Mr Lincoln rose

REALLY Fragrant ARS Roses

The James Alexander Gamble Fragrance Award

The April 2014 Queen’s Herald contained an article that listed the favorite fragrant roses for a good number of TRS members. Many roses were mentioned and all would be excellent roses to grow for their fragrance. Since fragrance is such a popular attribute of roses in the American Rose Society (ARS), an award was created to recognize high quality fragrant roses:  The James Alexander Gamble Fragrance Award.  It was first awarded by the American Rose Society  in 1961 and is for “outstanding new, very fragrant roses.

The criteria associated with the award are, briefly:

  1. The selection is made yearly by the ARS Prizes & Awards Committee, for the rose considered most fragrant in municipal and private gardens throughout the United States over a five-year period. 
  2. The rose must be registered and must be rated (at the time of the award) at least 7.5. The award is given when an outstanding new fragrant variety is available. 
  3. The “new” rose must have been registered within the fifteen years prior to the award, but not less than five years. 

At first I was just going to list the winners of the Gamble Award. You may regret that my academic instincts took over. I could not resist digging into the parentage of these roses in an attempt to find out where the fragrance comes from. Fragrance is a recessive genetic trait, so just crossing two fragrant roses does not guarantee a fragrant offspring.

Here is the list in order, updated to 2020, followed by some remarks.

Rose Name


Intro Year

Award Year

ARS Rating


Crimson Glory (HT, dark red) Wilhelm Kordes 1935 1961 7.3 Catherine Kordes seedling  X  W. E. Chaplin Tiffany (HT, pink blend)

Tiffany  Robert Linquist 1955 AARS 1962 7.8 Charlotte Armstrong X Girona

Chrysler Imperial (HT, dark red) Dr. Walter E. Lammerts 1953 AARS 1965 7.7 Charlotte Armstrong X Mirandy

Sutter’s Gold (HT, orange blend) Herbert C. Swim 1950 AARS 1966 6.7 Charlotte Armstrong X Signora

Granada (HT, red blend) Robert Linquist 1964 AARS 1968 7.9 Tiffany X Cavalcade

Fragrant Cloud (HT, orange red) Mathias Tantau 1967 1970 8.1 Seedling X Prima Ballerina

Papa Meilland (HT, dark red) Alain Meilland 1963 1974 7.7 Chrysler Imperial X Charles Mallerin

Sunsprite Wilheim 1972 1979 8.5 Seedling X (FL, deep yellow) Kordes Spanish Sun

Double Delight (HT, red blend) Herbert C Swim Arnold W. Ellis 1977 AARS 1986 8.6 Granada X Garden Party

Fragrant Hour (HT, orange pink) Sam McGredy, IV 1973 1997 7.4 Arthur Bell X (Spartan X Grand Gala)

Angel Face (FL, mauve) Herbert C Swim Oliver Weeks 1969 AARS 2001 7.7 (Circus X Lav. Pinnochio) X Sterling Silver

Secret (HT,pink blend) Daniel Tracey 1994 AARS 2002 7.7 Pristine X Friendship Mister Lincoln (HT, dark red) Herbert C Swim Oliver Weeks 1965 AARS 2003 8.3 Chrysler Imperial x Charles Mallerin

Sheila’s Perfume (FL, yell. blend) John Sheridan 1982 2005 8.2 (Peer Gynt x Daily Sketch)x(Paddy McGredy x Prima Ballerina)

Fragrant Plum (Gr, mauve) Jack Christensen 1990 2007 7.8 Shocking Bluex(Blue Nile x(Ivory Tower x Angel Face))

Sweet Chariot (Min, mauve) Ralph S. Moore 1985 2008 8.4 Little Chief x Violette

Louise Estes (HT,pink blend) Joseph F. Winchell 1991 2010 8.3 Seedling x Pacific Beauty

Ellé (HT,pink blend) Meilland International 2003 (2005 AARS) 2011 7.7 Purple Splendour x(Chicago Peace x Meikinosi)

Falling in Love (HT,pink blend) Tom Carruth 2006 2012 7.6 Moonstone x Marilyn Monroe

Wild Blue Yonder (Gr, mauve) Tom Carruth 2004 (2006 AARS) 2013 7.8 (Int. Herald Tribune x R.Souliana)x(Sweet Chariot x Blue Nile) etc

Scentimental (F, red blend) Tom Carruth 1999 (1997 AARS) 2014 7.8 Playboy x Peppermint Twist

Firefighter Orard 2004 2017 7.8 Lasting Love x Hidalgo (HT,dark red)

Pope John Paul II (HT,white) Keith Zary 2007 2019 7.5 Secret x Fragrant Lace

Olivia Rose Austin (S,white) Austin 2015 2020 8.2 Unnamed seedling x unnamed seedling

I am interested in genealogy, so it is natural for me to try to trace the ancestry of our Gamble Award winners into earlier generations. It turns out that both ‘Crimson Glory’ and ‘Peace’ come into the picture at almost every turn.

As a first stop, we find out that the rose ‘Charlotte Armstrong’ (very fragrant) has ‘Crimson Glory’ as a pollen parent. This means that our first Gamble winner, ‘Crimson Glory’, is an ancestor of Tiffany’, ‘Chrysler Imperial’, ‘Sutter’s Gold’, ‘Granada’, ‘Papa Meilland’, and ‘Double Delight’.

The floribunda ‘Spartan’ has ‘Crimson Glory’ in its ancestry (a couple of places) and the hybrid tea ‘Friendship’ (an AARS winner and very fragrant rose I should still grow) has ‘Chrysler Imperial’ (and hence ‘Crimson Glory’) in its family tree. This gets ‘Fragrant Hour’ and ‘Secret’ onto the list of descendents of ‘Crimson Glory’. Since ‘Circus’ is also a descendent of ‘Charlotte Armstrong’ we can add ‘Angel Face’ to our list.

The two varieties that are left are ‘Fragrant Cloud’ and ‘Sunsprite’ as not being descended from ‘Crimson Glory’ (of course each has an unnamed parent so there is a chance!). Older roses that seem to contribute in several places include Julien Potin and Ophelia.

This is where things stood when I first investigated Gamble Fragrance Award Winners in early 2003.

In the intervening eleven years there have been an additional eight Gamble honorees. Is ‘Crimson Glory’ still a frequent ancestor of Gamble winners? Maybe “Yes” is an obvious answer, but this is just when we should check to see before jumping ahead to that conclusion. ‘Mister Lincoln’ is clearly on the list of the ‘Crimson Glory’ decendants, and through ‘Angel Face’ we can add ‘Fragrant Plum’. ‘Louise Estes’ joins the crowd since ‘Pacific Beauty’ has both ‘Crimson Glory’ and ‘Peace’ in its heritage.

‘Elle’ is clearly descended from ‘Peace’ and ‘Meikinosi’ has ‘Fashion’ in its parentage; ‘Fashion’ has ‘Crimson Glory’ as a pollen parent. ‘Falling in Love’ gets on the ‘Crimson Glory’ list through both ‘Moonstone’ and ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and on the ‘Peace’ list through ‘Marilyn Monroe’. As part of the etc. in ‘Wild Blue Yonder’’s parentage you find ‘Blueberry Hill’, and ‘Blueberry Hill’ has ‘Angel Face’ as an ancestor on both sides of its parentage.

So, for now, we add ‘Sheila’s Perfume’ and ‘Sweet Chariot’ to the list of those Gamble awardees that do not seem to have ‘Crimson Glory’ in their ancestry.‘Peace’ is a parent of ‘Sterling Silver’, ‘Garden Party’, ‘Grand Gala’, and ‘Prima Ballerina’. This makes it an ancestor of ‘Angel Face’, ‘Fragrant Hour’, ‘Double Delight’ and ‘Fragrant Cloud’.

In the Gamble awardees between 2003 and 2013 we find ‘Peace’ as an ancestor of ‘Sheila’s Perfume’, ‘Fragrant Plum’, ‘Louise Estes’, ‘Ellé’, ‘Falling in Love’, and ‘Wild Blue Yonder’. The only exceptions are ‘Sweet Chariot’ and ‘Mister Lincoln’. Another rose that showed up in several places in my genealogical search of the Gamble Winners is ‘Independence’ (also a descendent of ‘Crimson Glory’). In fact, the very fragrant hybrid tea ‘Karl Herbst’ is ‘Independence’ x ‘Peace’ and ‘Grand Gala’ is ‘Peace’ x ‘Independence’.

At any time in history, two paramount goals for mankind have been Peace and Independence or Independence and Peace. This is as true today as it has ever been. Let us enjoy our roses and hope the quest for Independence and Peace in the world is as successful as the rose hybridizer’s quest for fragrance in new roses.

Addenda for 2020

It was 2014 when the above was presented. At that time, the last Gamble Award winner was ‘Wild Blue Yonder’. After watching the full five hours of the recent ARS Virtual Annual 2020 Meeting I decided to bring the above table up to date (as far as I know).

That process brought in four more rose varieties for the James Alexander Gamble Fragrance Award:   ‘Scentimental’, ‘Firefighter’, ‘Pope John Paul II’, and ‘Olivia Rose Austin’. Let’s see what we can say about these “newbies” in terms of the previous connections to ancestors.

I have not taken the time to dig as deeply as I will later. For some time now the Modern Roses 12 database has not been available. For me this was the best way to hunt for (rose) family trees.

At the recent virtual ARS meeting, Bob Martin gave an update on the progress being made on restoring/rebuilding that database. It sounded like MR 12 might make it back to life “soon” or sometime in the nearish future. I will wait!

For now, what I can say about ancestors of the new Gamble awardees is the following: ‘ Scentimental’ is decended from ‘Crimson Glory’, ‘Firefighter’ has both ‘Peace’ and ‘Crimson Glory’ in its lineage, and ‘Pope John Paul II’ has ‘Crimson Glory’ as an ancestor. ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ has as its parents reported as “unknown seedling” x “unknown seedling” so for Olivia the trail is not just cold but frozen.

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