In May 2004, in the former garden of the monastery, at the southern fasade of the Kostanjevica monastery near Nova Gorica, there was opened for the public a collection of Bourbon roses. It is one of the biggest and most complete collections of Bourbon roses in the world. In May and June there are thousands of them in bloom.
Bourbon roses, the roses of the 19th century, have become mostly extinct in the world. In Nova Gorica, the city of roses, the last preserved representatives were given a special place and became the second largest public collection of the original Bourbon roses in Europe (the only larger one is at Roseraie de l'Haÿ near Paris). They flourish in the approximate vicinity of the resting place of the last French kings, the Bourbons, in the garden of the Franciscan Monastery at Kostanjevica.
Bourbon roses are truly special among roses, as they represent an important step in the development from old to modern roses. They were named after the island Ile de Bourbon in the Indian Ocean, which is today called Reunion. This means that the name is only indirectly connected to the last French kings, the Bourbons. The first were created by accidental cross-fertilisation of two old varieties of roses, the Old blush China and the Quatre saisons damask rose. Famous French and other gardeners raised about 1,500 varieties, which over several decades literally flooded Europe. Only about one hundred have been preserved to this day. They put an enticingly fragrant stamp on their time, when they adorned the residences of the wealthy. From them they created new, modern roses, which slowly ousted the antique roses from gardens.
Like most old beauties, the Bourbons have their charm and their whims. The latter are mainly reflected in the fact that they usually only blossom luxuriously in the spring. They do not come in red, yellow or orange shades, but their extensive range of colours extends from snow white (Boule de neige) to dark pink (Zigeunerknabe, Grüss an Teplitz, Frau O. Plegg). Some are vivaciously multi-coloured (Variegata di Bologna, Commandant Beaurepaire). They mostly blossom only once a year, from the start of May to early June. Some of them open their blossoms throughout the year (Adam Messerich). And the most charming thing about them is the luxury of their scents. Gentle, fresh, but also distinct, sweet and fruity, muscat, vanilla, spicy scents … The intoxicating variety of rose scents is indeed something special, coming from the rich blossoms of diverse shapes, the strongest on sunny mornings. Some Bourbon roses do not grow tall, others are inquisitively climbing (Mme Isaac Pereire), and some are thorny and bushy (Blairii No.2) … Some are even without thorns (Martha, Kathleen Harrop, Zephirine Drouhin), others have ball-shaped blossoms (Madame Pierre Oger), and some are shyly hanging down (Coupe de Hebe) … Some have an abundance of gentle, light green leaves, others have dark green leaves and some even wine-red stalks and leaves. At Kostanjevica, in the shelter of the monastery yard facing south, there is hardly a day in the year when you find no buds or blossoms. The exceptionally mild microclimate, one of the most favourable for roses in this part of the Mediterranean, enables the Bourbon roses to develop all their virtues.
The Bourbon rose collection at Kostanjevica boasts a great peculiarity: these roses are allowed to grow as they like. Rose lovers direct them rather than limit them, and the roses repay them with cascades of wonderfully fragrant blossoms unparalleled in Europe. It is no coincidence that every year numerous visitors from near and far find them a source of inspiration, relaxation and aromatherapy.
The idea of the rose fans from Gorica was realised in 2003. Besides the roses planted next to the streets, the city was in a few years richer because of a carefully arranged rose collection of 70 different Bourbon roses – unique in the world. The Bourbon rose garden has become the heart of the Rose Festival in Nova Gorica thanks to the fruitful collaboration with the Municipality of Nova Gorica and the loyal sponsors. It is becoming the central cultural, social and instructive spring event of the city of roses - Nova Gorica. Tours of the Bourbon rose collection and rose plantations in the city (with roses usually blossoming a week or two after the Bourbon variety), various lectures for the lay public, manual skill workshops, the competition for the Bourbon rose of the year and the prettiest rose plantation, various exhibitions, concerts, tasting events as well as the rich culinary and the range of relaxation services during the festival, enrich the lives of the local people and help build the recognition of the town with a rose in its coat-of-arms, both in the home country and abroad.
Goriško društvo ljubiteljev vrtnic
Delpinova ulica 5, 5000 Nova Gorica
Samostan Kostanjevica (Kostanjevica Monastery)
Škrabčeva 1, P.O.B. 103, 5000 Nova Gorica
t: +386 (0)5 330 77 50
f: +386 (0)5 330 77 51