Rose Cuttings: March 2015
by Mike Shoup
‘Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison’
Malmaison is the French word for “sick house,” a strange name for a rose. But history makes a compelling argument for its use. Josephine Bonaparte, the first wife of Napoleon, bought a country estate with the name.
Much to her husband’s consternation, she indulged lavishly there in her gardening hobby. Her gardens featured about 250 varieties of roses, many of them imported. Documented by the great artist Pierre Joseph Redouté, her collection became famous. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, the compact bush honoring that enterprise, was introduced about 30 years after Josephine died.
What a rose it is! Once named ‘Queen of Beauty and Fragrance’, it is the embodiment of all that is good in old roses. The climbing form, a sport, can achieve 20 feet, easily covering arbors and pergolas. Its flowers — soft pink, very double, old-fashioned and flat-quartered, with wonderful fragrance — show generously throughout the spring and fall.
With such “wow” flowers, it’s no wonder the Federation of Rose Societies placed this rose in its Hall of Fame, ensuring long-lasting popularity.