So What do you Look for in Roses?
I thought this might be a fun exercise. I'll start:
First off you got to understand that I'm all about the flower; beauty and fragrance of the individual blooms is everything to me. And I'm very picky.
I put my foot down in areas of flower form, fragrance, remontancy and plant vigor. My number one criteria is fragrance; the perfume must be so strong it will knock you down and then drag you into a giggling state of olfactory bliss. However, if the rest of a rose's attributes are exceptional then I will accept a moderately scented flower (case in point: MOLINEUX).
The bloom must also be beautiful to look at from start to finish (this is my biggest beef with Hybrid Teas - gorgeous buds, but disappointing - i.e. formless - mature blooms). Single, semi-double, doubled, high centered, quartered: it doesn't matter which (although I do favor quartered blooms, especially with a button eye) as long as those petals are perfectly symmetrical with tight flower formation. I'm especially vulnerable to swooning when the individual petals are rounded (i.e. scalloped).
Quick and reliable repeat is very important. Then there is vigor. The plant should be vigorous enough to grow WELL on its own roots.
I'm more flexible with the other attributes. Ideally the growth habit should be bushy to 4 feet tall, good strong stems, okay vase life (it doesn't need to last an entire week - three days is good enough), reasonably disease resistant foliage (I will spray without complaint if the flowers are really gorgeous), and canes that are not heavily thorny.
I also tend to favor roses that have been grown for over 20+ years and are no longer under patent protection. My way of thinking is if a rose has stood the test of time and can meet my standards then it deserves to be preserved for posterity. This is why I tend to favor the remontant Old Garden Roses classes.
To date no single rose has ever had everything that I'm looking for but I keep looking. Like I wrote earlier. I'm V-E-R-Y picky!