A Little Book On Classical Roses
From the beginning of time myths and legends were created to help mankind manage their world. Gods and goddesses live on in stories of Rome, Greece and Egypt, tales of love, deceit, temptation, lust and magic. We honour those goddesses today not only in their legends but also in roses created in their likeness.
In 2012, my first book will be published worldwide. Entitled ‘Women in my Rose Garden’ it tells the stories of historical women who have had classic roses named after them.
This little book follows the same format and relates the stories of mythical women and their roses and attempts to explain why the breeder chose to name their creation. The roses from literature are slightly different. This has been an educated guess- a stretch of the imagination as I grew to know the breeder better.
Since leaving Trinity Farm Rose Museum where we grew over 1600 of these treasures I have concentrated on making the stories of these roses come alive to the gardeners and readers.
The classical roses are special, their namesakes intriguing. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into their lives. The breeders who named them have interesting and fascinating lives.
This little book will be published soon. Watch here for the date of availability.
Here is a taste of one of these treasures
Arethusa: Greek Goddess
In Greek mythology, all brides were called nymphs. They were classified according to the natural objects with which they were associated. Arethusa was a naiad, a fresh water nymph.
She was desired by the lustful Alpheus, the river god. He saw her bathing and immediately fell in love with her and spent his time amorously pursuing her relentlessly. In desperation, Arathusa implored the chaste and pure goddess Artemis, to turn her into an underground spring, which disappeared underground, rising again in the island of Ortygia, off Syracuse in Sicily. This mattered not to the mighty and love struck Alphesus, who mingled his own river with that of Arethusa and in the joining of the two waters, the river attained mystical powers. Anything thrown into the river along its course would disappear and reappear at the fountain.
Alpheus was the principal river of the Peloponnesus, flowing through Arcadia and past Olympia and its fresh waters flowed untainted by salt from the Ionian Sea to Arethusa’s fountain at Ortygia.
Arethusa is also remembered by a 1914 British warship although whether it is an honour to name a warship after a chaste goddess is debatable. The luck of the gods did not favour the warship and she was wrecked in 1916 after striking a mine.
This family of roses is an important milestone in the history of rose breeding. The four “stud china” roses found in China brought two important genes into the rose gene pool. These new Chinas are remontant and carry the genes of the colours red and yellow. Prior to their discovery by the Victorian plant explorers, old roses bloomed in shades of white, pink and purple and flowered only once a season in Spring.
China roses, much lighter in style than many of the other old rose families, have an airy, twiggy growth habit with sparse foliage of pointed leaves. They have a quiet charm and relaxed behaviour and do better in warmer climates.
The blooms of the genteel Arethusa are sulphur yellow, rather raggedy and muddled in style, with a mixture a lemon and apricot and produced in clusters amid sparse shiny foliage.
Both canes and leaves are tinged red when young. The flowers are not showy or tidy but have undeniable charms which continue to enchant us throughout the season. The colours intensify with age rather than fading as many others flowers do. In most climates they are graceful little bushes barely reaching a metre.
Adam Paul, founded the nursery in 1890 and based himself in Chesham Hertfordshire. The firm was continued by his sons George and William until taken over by the Chaplin Brothers. William was a prolific writer and breeder who eventually moved to Waltham to start his own nursery, the Cheshunt Nurseries, an important source of old roses. His most seminal work “Contributions to Horticultural Literature” was published in 1892 and a facsimile of “The Rose Garden” originally published in 1848 is held in the library of the Trinity Farm Living Rose Museum in Otaki, New Zealand.