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  • Shelagh Clancy

What’s in a Name?

Ah, life, what is it but a flower?

—A. E. Housman

June is National Rose Month and warrants a visit to your local rose garden. Enjoy the rose flowers but take a look at their names, too: They’re full of history.

Some rose names are descriptive and many are named for people. Before the 1950s, roses were often named for royalty or relatives of the grower. Later, American rose growers christened roses with names of celebrities. There are hundreds of rose varieties; here are three with names that leave you wanting to know more.

Mme Alfred Carriere

“Mme Alfred Carriere” is a strong, healthy noisette bred in France in 1879 by Joseph Schwartz. He dedicated his rose to the wife of Alfred Carriere, a famous rosarian and chief editor of Revue Horticole, a French horticultural publication of the time.

Souvenir de la Malmaison

“Souvenir de la Malmaison” is a classic bourbon rose with cupped blooms in a soft pink fading to white. Malmaison was the palace of Empress Josephine Bonaparte; there she grew the most complete collection of roses in the world.

The rose “Souvenir de la Malmaison” was introduced in 1843 by the Lyon, France horticulturalist Jean Beluze. Originally known as “Queen of Beauty and Fragrance,” it was renamed when a Grand Duke of Russia obtained a specimen from the gardens at Malmaison for the Imperial Garden in St. Petersburg.

Peace Rose

French rose breeder Francis Meilland discovered this rose seedling in 1935, labeled “3-35-40.” It grew to be the most famous of hybrid tea roses. In France, the cultivar was named “Madame A. Meilland,” in honor of Francis' deceased mother. This is the formal cultivar name.

The Peace Rose was introduced on April 29, 1945, the day that Berlin fell. Conrad Pyle christened the rose “Peace” to commemorate the end of World War II. Later that year in San Francisco a “Peace” Rose was handed out to each member of the United Nations to take back to their own country, with a note that read, “We hope the 'Peace' rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.

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