A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


The Name Of A Rose
Monday, April 30, 2007

Roses are beautiful, they are fragrant (the ones in my garden are), they have elaborate and an interesting history and, best of all, they have names that conjure all kinds of romantic images.

It escapes me that Shropshire rose breeder, David Austin would name one of the best of his really red roses(and the redest in my garden)after his father-in-law, Leonard Braithwaite. How much romance can there be in the name Rosa 'L.D. Braithwaite'?

The Belgians and the Frenchmen of the 19th century knew how to name their roses. In a man's world some of the roses were named after men's wives without ever giving a hint as to their real names. As an example one of the most delicate of my Bourbon Roses, a sport of Rosa 'Reine Victoria', is Rosa 'Mme Pierre Ogier', below.

It has the same delightfull shape of a ping-pong ball but instead of being deep pink it is a delicate shade of white with pink overtones. Who was Pierre Oger? We don't know. French hybridizer Margottin named his best Bourbon 'Louise Odier', below, in 1851.

We don't know who she is. I have often been tempted to buy Rosa 'Mme Isaac Pereire', also a Bourbon bred by Garcon in 1881. This rose has the reputation of having the most fragrance of any rose. What is interesting is that we do know who Mme Isaac Pereire is. She was the wife of a Parisian banker. His name suggests that he was perhaps a Jew with Sephardic roots. His wife may have been (in my imagination) a woman similar in looks to Shakespeare's Dark Lady. I may go back to Free Spirit Nursery in Langley as he has a couple of Mme Isaac Pereires. I could have bought her yesterday when I visited Lambert's Free Spirit but I fell for another name, a rose called Rosa 'Ghislaine de FĂ©ligonde'. French breeder Turbat named this rose in 1916 after a now unknown Flemish woman. That first name is pronounced Elaine.

Tune in here in June as I will post a scan of this small climber with orange-yellow flowers that grow in large clusters.


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