The Gertrude Jekyll Rose

Gertrude Jekyll was born on 29 November 1843.  She was an influential British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer.  She has created over 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.

 Jekyll is remember for her painterly approach using “warm” and “cool” flower colours into the arrangement of the gardens she created.  Her theory of how to design with colour was influenced by colour wheel theory, painter JMW Turner and Impressionism.  Later in her life, she focused on the purpose of preservation on vast array of plants.

Besides gardening, Jekyll has written over 15 books, one of them is Colour in the Flower Garden.   Jekyll was also interested in traditional cottage furnishings and rural crafts, and concerned that they were disappearing.  Her book Old West Surrey (1904) records many aspects of 19th century country life with over 300 photographs taken by Jekyll.

Jekyll passed away on 8 December 1932 and is buried in the churchyard of Busbridge Church.  The monument was designed by Edwin Lutyens, an English architect, whom she had collaborated with on gardens for many of his houses.

Gertrude Jekyll, a pink, beautiful, large, rosette-shaped flower was bred by David Austin and named in her honour in 1986.  The most outstanding characteristic of this lovely rose is its beautiful and perfectly balanced Old Rose scent, often described as Old Rose fragrance.

The Graham Thomas Rose

Graham ThomasGraham Stuart Thomas was born in Cambridge on 3 April 1909.  He was an English BSc botanist, best known for his work with garden roses and preserving the heritage of old roses when many of them were on the verge of extinction.  He has written 19 books on gardening, many of which remain classics today.

Getrude Jerkyll was a mentor to the young Thomas, passing on her theories of garden design as an art.  She also influenced him on collecting old shrub and climbing rose varieties, many of which had fallen out of favour because they only flowered once during the season.

In 1983, a rose Graham Thomas, cultivated by David Austin was named in his honour.  Thomas passed away on 17 April 2003, at age 94.

Pierre de Ronsard Rose

Pierre de Ronsard rose also known as Rosa Eden, is a light pink and white climbing rose.  The large, old-rose blooms is carmine-pink on the inside and creamy or ivory on the outside, with full petals of 55 to 60.  Due to the weight of its petals, flower heads are bowing.  This plant is often trained as climber along fence or other supports.  The blooms have a very light to moderate fragrance.

It is interesting how I was attracted to the rose first and decided to find out more about the person who is named in honour with.  This beautiful rose was named after a French Renaissance “prince of poets”, Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585).  One of his famous poems, Mignonne, allons voir si la rose (below and translated from French), is written in 1545, a delicate ode paying tribute to the beauty of women and nature:

Darling, let’s go see if the rose
Which had unfurled this morning
Its crimson dress to the Sun,
Has this evening has lost
The folds of its crimson dress,
And its complexion like yours.

Alas! See how, in a short space,
Darling, it has in this place,
Alas! alas, let its beauty fall!
Oh truly cruel Mother Nature,
Since such a flower lasts
Only from morning till evening!

So, if you believe me, darling,
While your age is flowering
In its greenest newness,
Gather, gather your youth
Since, as with this flower, old age
Will tarnish your beauty.

A Rose with No Petal

A rose may have no petal at all, it is named Rosa chinensis viridiflora, sometime known as Green RoseWhat appear to be petals of the flower are actually sepals.  The bud looks like the rose but when it opens there is no petals but the sepals that form the ‘flower’.  When there is no flower, there is no seed, how does it germinate?  Through cuttings.

This type of plant is said to be in cultivation since 1743.  It is usually used to complement other roses in floral arrangements.

Souvenir de la Malmaison

Souvenir de la MalmaisonThis rose is dedicated to Josephine de Beauharnais or more commonly known as the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte; Empress Josephine of France.  She purchased Chateau de Malmaison in 1799 and had it landscaped in an English garden style.  The garden was noted for its wide collections of rose species.

Pierre Joseph Redoute was commissioned by her to paint the roses from her garden.  Les Roses was published in 1817-20 with 168 plates of roses; 75-80 of the roses were grew in Malmasion garden.  Unfortunately the rose collections in Malmasion were not catalogued and the rose garden was left in neglect after Josephine’s death.

The rose, Souvenir de la Malmaison was named in her honour, 30 years after her death in 1844.  Large, loosely double, wavy petals of clear rose pink veined with deep pink, with strong fragrance.

Sweet Juliet


Sweet JulietThis rose is named after Juliet Capulet, a character in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  One of Juliet’s famous quote in the play is “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose.  By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Act II, Scene II).  A profound statement which suggested that a name is simply to distinguish one from another.  A rose, if named differently, would still smell as sweet.  It is a person that make a name instead of a name that make a person.


Sweet Juliet, is a shrub roses bred by David Austin.  Apricot in colour with neatly formed rosettes with fresh and strong tea rose scent.  I love this bloom especially when it is cupped like a bowl-shaped and not fully opened with the centre heavily petaled.

Smallest and Largest Roses

While looking at my small roses, I wondered how did the world largest roses looked like.  Google for the image was unsuccessful.  However, it was recorded that the largest rose is said to be bred by Nikita K Rulhoksoffski from San Onofre, California.  The rose is pink in colour and measure approximately 33 inches which is nearly 110cm in diameter.

Mini Rose

Mini Rose by Jase Lim

Perfoliated Rose

The phenomenon of flower perfoliation is now called proliferation.  It is a deformity, whereby the stem continues to grow through the open flower, usually centrally but occasionally to one side.  The picture below shown an example of a perfoliated rose illustrated by Pierre Joseph Redoute’s from his book titled The Roses. 

Perfoliated Rose

Perfoliated Rose by Pierre Joseph Redoute

A Rose for Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

‘Roald Dahl’ a new peach colour variety rose cultivated by David Austin to mark the 100 years birth of this beloved author, who also love gardening.  The young buds are a beautiful soft orange-red, the red reminiscent of the blush found on an actual peach. When fully open, they form medium-sized, cupped rosette blooms which are produced almost continuously with a mild fragrance. Despite their delicate appearance, they are robust enough to withstand even the most inclement weather.

The peach colour of the rose also brought to mind the eponymous peach in James and the Giant Peach, one of Roald Dahl’s best-loved novels.