Monsieur Tillier vs. Mrs. B. R. Cant. Two Tea Roses.

Mrs. B. R. Cant:
Mrs. B. R. Cant

Monsieur Tillier:
Rosa 'Monsieur Tillier'

Not everyone knows that "Hybrid Tea" and "Tea" roses are two very different animals. Martha Stewart will sometimes slip and call Hybrid Tea roses "Teas", though I know she means "Hybrid Tea". The original "Hybrid Tea" roses were a blend of "Hybrid Perpetual" and "Tea" roses, and were first developed in France in the middle of the nineteenth century.

In contrast, "Tea" roses have a longer history, originating in China and morphing into many new varieties when they arrived in Europe. If you are interested in a brief overview of old garden rose classes, check here or here.

"Tea" roses have certain general characteristics: they are usually somewhat slow to establish, are not particularly cold-hardy, have thin, twiggy growth, and bloom almost constantly, whenever it is warm enough. Their bloom color can vary depending on soil, season, and weather. Their habit of establishing only slowly is a serious drawback in our instant-gratification culture. They are usually short-lived as cut flowers. Hard-pruning is not recommended, as they can sulk as a result, and since they like to bloom from very small twiggy growth, pruning will reduce bloom in the short run.

A young plant of 'Monsieur Tillier' peeking around the 8' Phormium. Given time and care, it will at least match the Phormium's size:
Rosa 'Monsieur Tillier'

Mrs. B. R. Cant:
Mrs. B. R. Cant

There is a distinct "Tea" fragrance that not every nose can detect. The very different "rose" fragrance that most people are familiar with is a gift from the original European species roses.

Monsieur Tillier vs. Mrs. B. R. Cant:

Monsieur T's fragrance is classic Tea: musty, dusty, and in hot dry weather, elusive. Mrs. B. R. has the same Tea fragrance mixed in with both raspberry and spice. Mrs. B. R. wins on fragrance.

Rebloom and productivity:
Both are quite good.  A draw.

A draw. Both typical Tea, matte, olivey green.

Rust/Mildew vulnerability:
Both are very rust resistant, but Powdery Mildew can be a problem when conditions are favorable, especially before the plant is well established. A draw.

Growth habit:
Again, both are typical Tea, twiggy, slow, eventually large. Mrs. B. R. seems likely to be the larger of the two, but neither are dainty growers in USDA zone 9.

Young plant of 'Monsieur Tillier':
Rosa 'Monsieur Tillier'

Very similar. Le Monsieur is a little lighter.

Heat Tolerance:
I've noticed no significant difference. The delicate petals will toast in fierce heat, but they'll keep trying to bloom no matter what.  In hot weather they may toast, but on the other hand, they'll both happily bloom in December and January in Southern California, when modern roses may be tired  and rusty. 

Flower Form:
Here's the most significant difference between the two. Mrs. B. R. will be cupped to rosette, varying with the weather. Le Monsieur is a full, informal muddle.
'Monsieur Tillier':
Rosa 'Monsieur Tillier'

In summary, 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' has better fragrance and a more formal flower form, and will grow larger than M.T.. 'Monsieur Tillier' has his own charm and beauty, and may be somewhat smaller. Do you need both varieties? If you have lots of space and adore Tea roses, probably.
Otherwise, since either will grow to 8'X8' or more, one may be enough--or possibly even too much. Either will charm and delight.

Gardening tastes, like music and clothes and everything else, are culture dependent. They reflect our circumstances and mindset. Nowadays easy care, quick-growing, intensely colored, big-flowered modern roses are far more popular than delicately tinted, slow growing Teas, with their shyly nodding flowers on small stems. Gardens are smaller, making large plants impractical. And we are such an in-your-face, right now culture: everything and everyone is screaming for our attention at every possible moment.  In-your-face has not always been, and will undoubtedly not always be, a virtue. 

A friend and Tea rose devotee remarked to me recently that even he was drifting away from Teas and towards the modern shrub roses. In his garden, the soft colors and smaller Tea flowers were hard to notice in comparison to larger, brighter rose blooms. Ah, even he.

However, Tea roses are survivors.  They've gotten this far, after all.  Their day may come again.

Tea Roses: Old Roses for Warm GardensThe Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book: Enlarged and Thoroughly Revised


  1. Nothing like the teas. So graceful and the leaves get that intense ruddiness. They're tough enough to survive until the next generation of rose rustlers rediscovers them.

  2. I am in zone 7 almost zone 6b, and was talked into buying B.R.Cant. This year we are getting some -6 weather with snow. So far my 5 rose bushes are making it. I just love this rose so much and hope it can make it. Of course, I could say that about many roses, except for those wannabe roses, knockouts.

  3. I'm in zone 8a and we call my "Monseiur Tillier", "Monster Tillier". It's huge, it blooms continually and even bloomed when the weather was continually hot in 2011. It is 8x8 and is tough!

    I don't detect any scent in the one I have though. It's not good as a cut flower but it flowers a lot!


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