A Tour de MalakoffSaturday, June 12, 2010
Today was a most satisfying day. In the morning I puttered around the garden. If puttering includes mowing the lawn (inside garden and boulevard garden) then puttering it was. The two granddaughters arrived at one. We drove to White Rock to visit Alec Globe’s open rose and rhododendron garden. Globe, in picture here, had opened the garden for today and tomorrow as a member of the Vancouver Rose Society.
It would seem that roses and rhododendrons are an odd combination but that is not the case, historically. The Island of Rhodes was named so, as the root word rose is Greek for flower. Rhodes means the flowery garden. Some botanical sage with a flaw in nomenclature meant to call rhododendrons as rose trees. Dendron is the Greek root for tree. While roses and rhodos are not in the least related the flowers of rhododendrons can be as spectacular as roses and quite a few rhododendrons can also be extremely fragrant. In fact Rhododendron decorum (my garden friend Pamela Frost grew both of her specimens from seed) has white flowers that smell of ripe watermelon.
From the moment we entered Globe’s garden and we faced his huge specimens of Rosa ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ and of Rosa 'Königin von Dänemark' both Rebecca and I were not only impressed but hooked. Globe has all kinds of roses that we did not know existed including the so called German pavement roses, which the practical Germans hybridized for use in Autobahnen. These cast iron roses (with equally cast iron rugosa heritage) can take automobile exhaust and city pollution without getting diseases while (believe or not!) producing strong fragrance. Some of them, in the case of Globe’s Rosa ‘Pierrette Pavement’ the scent is of cloves.
But it was one rose that wowed Rebecca and me. It was a Centifolia (also called Provence or Cabbage Roses) with the strange name of Tour de Malakoff. The rose is a vivid magenta flushed deep purple and fading to lilac-grey. I would say that the effect is slightly mottled. And the spent blooms (the one here is semi-spent) were just as interesting as the new ones. And all were fragrant. Rebecca was so excited that when we came home (I had a cut bloom that Globe provided me for the scan you see here) she immediately went on to the net and searched Robin Dening’s Brentwood Bay Nursery rose data base to look for the rose. Her Eureka was loud enough that I must now organize a little trip to Vancouver Island with Rosemary and the girls to secure this prize.
While Rebecca was looking for the rose I researched the name. It seems that during the Crimean War a French General, Patrice de Mac-Mahon stormed the Russian redoubt of Malakoff (whence the term tower of Malakoff) in Sebastopol in 1854. In a sort of John Paul Jones-type of answer to the question, “Will you surrender?” Mac-Mahon uttered the famous J'y suis, j'y reste ("Here I am, here I stay") and took it.
When I looked info on the rose in my Peter Beales Classic Roses I was curious to the fact that the hybridizers Jean Soupert and Pierre Notting were based in Luxembourg and that their rose had been introduced only two years after Mac-Mahon’s victory in 1854.
When I read Globe’s bio on the Vancouver Rose Society’s web site:
Alec Globe grows roses and rhododendrons in temperate White Rock, south of Vancouver, Canada. His passion for gardens has led to speaking engagements at local garden clubs as well as the Pacific Northwest Garden Show in Seattle. Alec is a recently retired university professor at the University of British Columbia. He enjoys the intellectual pleasures of reading about roses as much as looking for native flora and fauna on his hikes and canoe trips in the Pacific Northwest. Alec is an avid historian on the subject of roses and possesses the largest personal collection of rose books in Canada.
I came to the conclusion that he would have explained all I needed to know about Rosa ‘Tour de Malakoff’ without having to resort to Google!