'La Belle Sultane', origin unknown, dates to late 1700's.
Also known as R. gallica violacea. 'La Belle Sultane' has become one of my favorite Gallicas. Once upon a time, I was not much of a fan of single or near-single roses. That has been changing over the last few years, and singles are now something that I have developed an appreciation for. Although not an absolute single (5 petals), this rose opens up flat to display golden yellow stamens in a cup of a dozen or so petals. There is an appreciable fragrance that is quite typical of the Gallicas....hard to describe, but very appealing. Blooms are 3.5" to 5" across, and a rich crimson purple, fading to violet, gray, and muted purples.
Historically, 'La Belle Sultane' is supposed to have originated in Holland in the 1700's or earlier. There are a number of references that indicate that in Holland, this time period may be the starting point for the developement of the Gallica hybrid as a garden shrub. (Peter Beales has pointed out a similar reference regarding the origin of 'Tuscany') In the 1790's the rosarian Andre Dupont imported 'La Belle Sultane' into France. He was the chief horticulturist at Empress Josephine's home of Malmaison, and he was instrumental in securing roses for Josephine's gardens from across the globe. Jules Gravereuax' 1912 listing of roses grown at Malmaison did indeed include 'La Belle Sultane'. There is also an illustration of 'La Belle Sultane' in Redoute's masterpiece of rose illustrations, comissioned by Josephine. Many of the other tales about this rose must largely be considered mythology, perpetuated by time. This has led to much confusion regarding the true origin, and name of this rose. However, it is a fine rose, and a well behaved one in my garden.
merit rating: 8.0
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