20100515

Peace and Quiet

Madame A. Meilland a.k.a. Peace, Gloria Dei, and Gioia
was the first rose to bloom in my garden this year 
About 20 years ago, I decided my grandparents' house needed roses. I plunked 6 rose bushes into the ground way at the back of the rear garden, and lovingly cared for them for a good five or ten years before I lost interest. Besides, they were well-established by then and needed relatively little care.

Last spring, I lost one (either Heaven or Fragrant Cloud, I always confuse them) to ground compaction, and then I lost Queen Elizabeth this winter, likely for the same reason. You can see her brown carcass in the left background of the photo, I left her there in case she magically springs back to life. I was devastated. Roses were the first plants that brought me out to the garden and sparked something of an interest in grubbing in the dirt! So now I'm giving love to the four I have left.

My roses usually start budding in late January or early February, but with the freakishly cold storms this year, they held off until March or April. Finally, two weeks ago, Mme Meilland busted open a bud! I ran out to take a photo before the rains came again. I'm so glad I took that shot, because it rained that night, and while the bud still bloomed last week, it looked a little water logged.

Madame Meilland was developed in France by Francis Meilland between 1935 to 1939, not a good time to be a new cultivar in France! Meilland was able to send cuttings to friends in Germany, Turkey, the United States and Italy just before the Germans invaded. Mme Meilland was released in the U.S. at the Pacific Rose Society's spring show under the trade name Peace on 29 April 1945, the day Berlin fell, by Conard-Pyle Co. And on 8 May the same year, each of the 49 delegates at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco received a Peace rose with the note:

“We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

Obviously, it hasn't had much influence on that front, but Madame A. Meilland is one of the most popular cultivars in home gardens, and one of my favorites, along with Taboo, which is still alive and well in my garden (yay!) and Queen Elizabeth (heavy sigh). Given the record number of natural, and not-so-natural disasters recently, let's hope that this late spring brings us all a little Peace and respite.