What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare
I am unaware of when my consuming passion for roses began or whether it was always there as a shared joy with my Mother who was obsessed with everything ‘roses’.
Gardening and nurturing roses allows one times of reflection. When for instance you lean on the shovel to catch your breath after digging or sit and contemplate your efforts with a welcome cup of tea. During these moments apart from the obvious love of the being outdoors enjoying the fresh air and sunshine and witnessing the results of your work. There is time with the arrival of Spring to enjoy the scent and spectacle of new blooms that heightens one’s feelings of satisfaction in growing things and being at one with nature.
Unexpectedly, an added bonus of my rose passion is learning the history of specific roses, their names and parentage. Rose names evoke stories and wonderment of life-long achievements in cultivation and dedication by expert rose breeders in raising the perfect rose. I found the history of various roses so interesting when I first came across the remarkable stories such as The Peace rose. See post Peace Rose
Sharifa Asma- Austin UK 1989, Maman Cochet – Cochet 1893 France, Paul Bocuse – Guillot-Massad France 1992, Fantin Latour -1840 France, Camille Pissarro – Delbard France 1996 and Pierre Gagnaire Delbard France 2003 amongst many other roses have become like close friends living silently outside in my garden. The hours spent planning and searching through websites and catalogues to choose the right rose, planting them and nurturing them to bloom has meant I’ve become attached to them and know all their names.
There is something quintessential in asking a rose gardener ‘What is her name?” When offered a rose, it is the next thing one does after raising the rose bloom to your face to catch the scent. Many people have been honoured by having a rose named after them and have therefore been immortalised by the perfection of a rose.
Today it is estimated according to Roger Mann in his book ‘Naming The Rose’ that for every new rose some five to ten thousand seedlings have been grown, tried out for five years or so and then rejected before the species is perfected. It was at the end of the eighteenth century that the sexuality of plants was discovered that made it possible to plan cross pollination and sow pollinated seed.
It was the Empress Josephine Of France (1763 -1814) who set up botanical and horticultural research at the Château de Malmaison in France. History tells us she introduced over 200 new plants to French gardens and the height of her passion were roses. The Malmaison Garden was the first to have a specific garden just for roses and the impact on the world at that time was immediate with gardeners developing rosariums of their own to primarily show off their rose specimens. This is why the Old Garden Roses are in the main French because the French rose breeders dominated horticulture up until the World Wars.
Roses were named after celebrities, the aristocracy, writers, artists, Generals, chef’s and politicians and their wives. Since the introduction of the code name by Alain Meilland and the purchasing of naming rights for roses and the added trend of roses being named for causes, groups and charities means it does not matter if we call a rose one name in Australia and another in the UK or anywhere else in the world.
Roses have been developed from across the world and in all walks of life and if I look out to my rose garden there they are living together in perfect harmony and exquisite beauty. I have almost 300 rose varieties (or will have when I plant this seasons over the next few weeks) and if nothing else it’s a good memory trainer to know them all by name.
I am more myself in a Garden than anywhere else on earth- Doug Green