Roses are a sight to behold in their apricot, pink, yellow or ivory glory, and a delight to breathe in too should you choose a variety with a forward fragrance. Without fragrance, the world would be emptier than we might first think.

Scents are processed in the same part of the brain as where memories are safely stored. Scents are emotional and can transport you back to a moment in time. Scents can soothe and make the stresses of a day feel suddenly so insignificant.

So whether it’s a heady musk scent that transports you to someplace special or a traditional tea fragrance that triggers something to make you feel happy and at home, there is a rose filled with notes ready to release. With up to 400 different aromatic components, roses carry one of the most complex scent profiles of all of nature’s blooms. With the help of our fragrance formulation expert Emma, we look at the ingredients within five rose fragrances.


Myrrh-scented roses are never really what you would quite expect. It’s hard to not hear myrrh and associate it with heavy, resinous frankincense fragrances that we associate with incense and Christmas-time. But Myrrh in roses is a totally different scent. It comes from the Latin Myrrhis odorata – the name for Sweet Cicely, which is classically light and delicate, full of air and hints of green aniseed. Green banana and fennel fronds can be detected too, along with liquorice root and a touch of star anise. To welcome a Myrrh rose into your garden, be it the frothy petals of Nye Bevan® (Auspital) or the strong scent of The Generous Gardener® (Ausdrawn), is to fill it with herbaceous green notes.

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Rich, complex and incredibly beautiful, Old Rose fragrances are warm and full of depth. Whenever you smell a rose with this scent profile, you feel as though you keep smelling downwards through its many enveloping layers. Citrus peel and cucumber, dried fruits and berry jam, black pepper and carnation flowers, beeswax and patchouli, Old Rose is a profile that just keeps on going. Somehow, the scent feels ancient, as though it’s been around forever. This is the classic smell of course that made roses so desired for centuries and centuries, civilisation after civilisation. A climbing rose such as Gertrude Jekyll® (Ausbord) will drape Old Rose notes around an entryway or over a pergola to create a setting drenched in the most delightful notes.

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Tea fragranced roses carry such an interesting scent, so-named as they smell like dried black tea leaves with other notes woven in. One of the best words to describe this fragrance family is powdery. Think delicate violet and soft orris root – an ingredient favoured in perfume making. Roses Dame Judi Dench® (Ausquaker), Emily Brontë® (Ausearnshaw), Lady of Shalott® (Ausnyson) and Vanessa Bell® (Auseasel) are a sublime showcase of Tea’s soft yet complex nature. Each one smells relaxing yet comforting thanks to its warm base. 

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These roses are some of the most diverse in their fragrance profile, with each rose typically being a mixture of all sorts of fruits. Some are fresher with green Granny Smith apple and pear notes, while others are much deeper like the striking Gabriel Oak® (Auscrowd) which is full of berries and has a jammy character. Many Fruity fragranced roses contain a whole host of fruit notes but in differing intensities; it is not uncommon to detect mango and guava alongside nectarine, cherry, elderflower and blackcurrant leaf. Look to Dannahue® (Ausa6b15) if you would like your garden to smell a little zesty!

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The rose Musk fragrance is produced by the stamen rather than the petals. Musk is the only fragrance created in this way in the world of roses, so be sure to smell deep into the bloom to appreciate it as its richest point. You might describe it as being spicy with notes of clove, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. But Musk is also made up of almond and nougat, sea salt and honeycomb, and a touch of amber resin. A warm summer’s day with the scent of a Musk rose such as Paul’s Himalayan Musk or Malvern Hills® (Auscanary) being carried by the breeze is really quite hard to beat. 

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