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Belle Isis, bred by Parmentier, Belgium 1845.

Belle IsisThis 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".)

'Belle 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. Belle Isis
I came to know 'Belle Isis' as a matter of course in getting to know the David Austin roses. It is well-known that Mr. Austin's first introduction was the rose 'Constance Spry', which resulted from a cross of the Floribunda 'Dainty Maid' and 'Belle Isis'.

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.  

ARS merit rating: 7.4
Personal merit rating: 8.5
Hardiness: Likely USDA zones 3 to 8, zone 4 in a protected location.
Shrub size: 3 to 4 feet tall X 3 feet wide

Fragrance: 4.5, Strong myrrh scent. Imagine a mix of rose and Anise, with perhaps a hint of soap!

Alain Blanchard seedling,
(see Song of the Stars)
Chianti Gloire de France Sissinghurst Castle
Alika Complicata Henri Fouquier Song of the Stars
Allegra (new 2003) Cramoisi Picotee Hippolyte Surpasse Tout
Belle de Crecy "Deep Purple" James Mason Tricolore de Flandre
Belle Isis Désirée Parmentier La Belle Sultane Tuscany
Belle sans Flatterie Duc de Guiche Marianne Tuscany Superb
"Brooks Purple" Duc de Fitzjames 'Mécène' Tuscany Superb X Othello
Camayeux Duchesse de Montebello Nestor Un-named seedling
"Carol's Favorite" Ellen Tofflemire Orpheline de Juillet "William Grant"
Charles de Mills Empress Josephine Rosa Mundi Ypsilante
Cardinal de Richelieu Gallicandy "Rush Family Rose"  

Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 2006, All Rights Reserved.