China Doll is a Polyantha Rose.
Now I don’t want to get technical but Modern Garden Roses are classified into four categories: Bush, Shrub, Climber or Miniature. The Bush rose is sub-classified into Hybrid Tea, Floribunda and Polyantha.
In 1875, Jean-Baptiste Guillot (the breeder of ‘La France’) crossed the China Rose ‘Old Blush’ with rosa multiflora, a species that produces large clusters of flowers. From this cross came the Polyanthas, a class of roses, small in stature, but resilient and hardy. They were also remarkable for their ability to produce masses of small flowers in clusters, providing a continuous display of colour through summer. Then the Danish breeder Svend Poulsen started crossing Polyantha Roses with Hybrid Teas, and the Floribunda rose was the result. (Old-Fashioned Roses James Young)
Polyanthas are renowned for the massive clusters of flowers that they produce from late spring until autumn. They are compact (about 0.4 metre) and disease-resistant. They are often described as ideal for borders or hedges, and for growing en masse as a groundcover.
China Doll was my first rose. It had an inauspicious beginning. I loved a standard rose at my mum’s house. I knew nothing of roses at the time, and asked one of my sisters what it was. She told me, ‘China Doll’. I went out and bought 8 standards for across the front of my house. My sister later confessed, ‘It could be The Fairy’. Whatever my mum had, it certainly was not China Doll.
China Doll is an almost thornless, compact, very free-flowering, upright bush rose that bears large trusses of a small, cupped, slightly fragrant flower with 24 petals. It has attractive glossy foliage. It grows 0.3 – 0.4 metres tall.
It is a good repeat-flowering subject for low-growing borders or as a short standard. China Doll can be propagated by either budding or from cuttings.
China Doll was introduced, in 1946, by Lammerts in the USA. There is a Climbing China Doll, synonymous with China Doll Weeping, released by Weeks in the USA in 1977. In Australia, it is distributed through Melville Nurseries in Carmel, WA.