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The Williams Roses

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Two of my most treasured roses have a New Zealand connection. I discovered this when researching for my book Women in my Rose Garden and while their story has not made the final cut for the book it is a delightful story anyway.

Blushing Lucy and Emily Gray were part of the Bishop William Williams family. Bishop William Williams translated the Bible into Maori. Williams, born in 1800 was the first Bishop of Waiapu. He eschewed medicine and followed his older brother’s footsteps into the church. The breeder of these two roses was Dr R.H Williams and the grandson of Bishop William Williams.

The Williams Family


Blushing Lucy

Blushing Lucy (1869-1940) was the wife of Dr Alfred. H. Williams, (1864-1993). The family says she had a bright complexion and blushed easily.
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She was the daughter of Capt. Frederick Harvey R.N.

Born in the mission station at Waerenga-a-hika in New Zealand, Dr Williams (1883-1887) was a long time rose enthusiast and hybridiser and past president of the English National Rose Society.  He left NZ to study medicine at Edinburgh University, worked in the Middlesex and Brompton hospitals and had several trips as the ship's doctor for the NZ Shipping Company before becoming a GP in Harrow. Not content with a busy pracice he was also a police surgeon and played a major part in the construction of the Harrow Cottage Hospital. It was in the gardens there that he developed his own roses. He was a recipiant of the much sought after Dean Hole Medal, awarded in 1935.

This fabulous rose faced extinction as all traces of her were lost during the war. She was first registered and shown in 1938 and was to be released commercially by Frank Cant of Colcester. However the advent of the war and the deaths of Dr. and Mrs Williams put the survival of this stunning rose in dire jeopardy. The three children were all abroad and the family home sold and all traces of the rose lost. Lt-Col. S.F. Harvey Williams - son of Dr Williams - desperately searched the nursery to see if any survived. One was  found at the back of the nursery and so Blushing Lucy was saved from extinction. Cuttings were offered to family ensuring its continual existance.

Her rose is one of the most stunning Wichuriana ramblers in our garden. Showers of soft pink, semi-double and slightly open blooms cascade from a healthy bush. She is drop dead gorgeous, flowering when most other ramblers are finished. She has dense glossy foliage of the Dorothy Perkins style and is very vigorous.
1938, Unknown parentage.

Emily Gray

Emily Grey was the eldest sister of breeder Dr. A.H. Williams. Emily (1859-1939), still in NZ was married to Charles Grey.
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Her rose is another stunning example from an amateur breeder and won Dr Williams  the Cory Cup in 1916. Her shapely buds open apricot and they fade to an elegant buttery yellow: the golden colour of New Zealand butter not the pale English variety. The semi-double blooms are fragrant, floriferous and are borne on a vigorous climber with dark green polished foliage. The blooms are very different to her sister-in-law but she nevertheless is also drop dead gorgeous.
1917 Wichuriana Rambler Jersey Beauty x Comtesse du Cayla


Both Blushing Lucy and Emily Grey grow very well from cuttings. At Trinity Farm Nursery we grew all our roses from cuttings and these 2 were very successful and were amongst the favourites of the rose buying public.