Belle Isis, bred by Parmentier, Belgium 1845.
This rose is atypical of the Gallica class being of very pale, delicate coloring. Most members of this group are of much deeper coloration, many in the crimson/purple range of hue. This rose is a lovely pale pink that verges on white as it unfolds into a smallish, but exceptionally beautiful cup-shaped bloom. In form, it is either quartered, or showing a button eye at the center. Because of it's unusually pale coloring, it is likely that it is not pure Gallica. Looking at it's sepals, my guess is that there is Damask in it's breeding. (Many have suggested that 'Ayreshire splendens' is somewhere in it's background, as that rose is the only rose previous to Belle Isis that had the gene for it's particular fragrance. This scent is described as "Myrrh-like".)
Isis' is an exceptional rose, whether it is all Gallica or not. It grows
to about 3 feet in height and width, and is a very tidy, well shaped
shrub. As with all of the Gallicas, if you choose to grow it on it's
own roots (that is, not grafted onto another variety of rose) then it
will spread by suckering into a thicket wherever it is allowed to travel.
I prefer to grow all of my roses this way because I enjoy seeing these
shrubs spread out in the garden. (Within reason, of course...) I maintain
a gardening policy that allows a measure of chaos created by allowing
the plant materials to express themselves as they wish. I don't like
stiff and formal gardens that are obvious in the way that they betray
their creator's plans.
I am very interested in the history and the evolution of rose breeding, so I like growing some of the roses that represent landmarks in breeders creativity. I also grow 'Belle Isis' offspring, 'Constance Spry', which I highly recommend to all rosarians out there. It is a truly beautiful shrub that is well worth growing in spite of it's once-flowering habit.
Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 2006, All Rights Reserved.