Souvenir de la Malmaison, introduced in 1843 by Béluze of France.
Breeding: Mme Desprez X a tea rose (possibly Devoniensis)
de la Malmaison, is considered to
be one of the very best of the surviving Bourbon roses we have.
Depending on the climate in which it is grown, it can get to be as tall
as 7 feet, but will most likely stay under 4 feet tall. There is a climbing
sport which can get to be quite a bit larger, but is identical in every
other way. (Except that it often seems to have a long period of bloomlessness
at the height of the summer)
The shrub is quite modern in appearance, being a bourbon-tea hybrid,
and in foliage it looks more like a hybrid tea. It is not a very vigorous
rose, but is reasonably sturdy, and will take a couple of years to get
properly established. Once it does, it can be a magnificent rose. The
blooms are unlike anything else! They are huge, very well quartered
deep cups, possessing a strange and distinct spicy/fruity scent.
As it is part tea rose in breeding ( Mme Desprez X an unknown Tea ), it is also a bit tender, and will definitely require winter protection in cold climates. No more tender, though, than many modern hybrid teas. Don't let this discourage you from giving it a try. As you may have noticed on the main page, this rose is the pollen parent of my own hybrid, Joyce Barden. I use it frequently in my breeding program, as have many people before me.
As an amusing footnote to its history, I quote a passage from Brent Dickerson's Old Rose Advisor* discussing the introduction of Souvenir de la Malmaison:
"The blossoms ... were taken to the markets of Lyon, whence they were quickly borne off, and Beluze was not of a mind to release this wonderful variety [wanting to maintain his 'monopoly' on its appearance in the florist trade] ... Beluze was so happy in the possession of this jewel that, whenever someone would enter his yard, he would place that person under the strictest surveillance, believing that otherwise the person would take many cuttings. The story also goes on to say that Mme Beluze would stand, watching, in one of the windows of the house. As for Beluze himself, he would be lost in watching the visitor from head to toe."
Hmmmm...I daresay I might have kept such a close watch on visitors myself for the same reason!
*Originally quoted from the Journal des Roses 1877-1914, edited by Cochet and Bernardin.
Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2003