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'Soleil d'Or', bred in France, 1900 by Joseph Pernet-Ducher.

Breeding: 'Antoine Ducher' x R. foetida persiana, although this is the listed parentage, much doubt has been cast on its authenticity, as a first generation foetida hybrid would not likely have been remontant. Many authorities now suggest that 'Soleil d'Or' resulted as an F2 seedling: ('Antoine Ducher' x R. foetida persiana) X self, while some suggest it was ('Antoine Ducher' x R. foetida persiana) X a Hybrid Tea/large flowered remontant rose. Either is plausible. No matter how the result was arrived at, it earned Pernet-Ducher a place in rose breeding history, and as a result of this stunning acheivement he was nicknamed The Wizard of Lyon! With the introduction of this rose came the possibility of true yellows and oranges and golds in hybrids. Indeed, through the next generation hybrid 'Rayon d'Or', a whole race of new roses exploded into existence: the Pernetianas. Sadly, this class of roses has been merged into the Hybrid Teas group. Many of us believe that some of these early varieties should continue to be recognized as Pernetianas.

'Soleil d'Or' has been, and still is, subject to much criticism. In many climates it sulks, suffering from serious Blackspot problems and being stingy with bloom. Often, there is little or no late season rebloom at all. Blooms are easily damaged in wet weather and can be rather variable in coloring, depanding on many variables. Still, when you get a few really beautiful blooms, they offer spectacular color and fragrance. The scent is unlike any other rose, reminding some people of grapefruit, and some of oranges. To me, it smells just like orange Tang! Ultimately, this is a collectors rose, since it cannot possibly compete with modern HT's for continuity of bloom and sturdiness of plant, but it deserves a place in any historically viable rose collection. It marks a turning point in the development of the modern rose.

A loving and informative review in the French Journal des Roses, by Pierre Cochet reads as follows:

"Since 1883, Monsieur Pernet-Ducher had sought to raise crosses between 'Persian Yellow' [Rosa lutea [i.e., R. foetida]) and other [,] remontant [,] roses. This knowing rosiériste was haunted by the superb yellow color of the Persian, which he strongly wished to have in a remontant. The enterprise seemed bold!—because Mother Nature doesn't always deign to cooperate, particularly where hybridization is concerned, and often gives just the opposite of what was intended. In a word, Pernet-Ducher stuck to his idea, and over and over again hybridized Hybrid Perpetuals with the pollen of 'Persian Yellow'. After many vicissitudes, he noted that the rose 'Antoine Ducher' took more easily than others to crossing with Rosa lutea. In 1888, he pricked out the seedlings obtained by these hybridizations, which, planted in the nursery, bloomed one after the other. The plants were certainly quite unusual—very interesting from the botanical point of view in their variations, but nothing showed commercial value. Only one of them ['Rhodophile Gravereaux' (Pern)] was noted in 1891 and 1892 when it bloomed, it gave semi-double flowers which were bright pink with whitish petal bases making a star, petal reverses light yellow, and having the foetid scent of Rosa lutea. It would have been gotten rid of, or at least forgotten right away, if a certain small incident hadn't happened.

"In a friendly dispute which Pernet-Ducher was having with the sympatico editor of Lyon-Horticole, Monsieur Viviand-Morel, the latter challenged his friend to come up with some descendants of Rosa lutea, which another horticulturist of Lyon, the late Alegatiere, had never been able to make seed. The following season—to be precise, May, 1893—at the bloom-time of the notorious semi-double pink flowered rose mentioned above, the dispute was decided in favor of Viviand-Morel. But in looking for stems to send to his friend, Pernet-Ducher noticed that [the 'plant' consisted of] two specimens growing next to each other, the one as ever the pink semi-double rose, the other quite small specimen showing for the first time quite full blossoms of a beautiful yellow color—'Soleil d'Or' was found! Pernet thus found doubled his means of convincing Viviand-Morel of the possibility of growing varieties of Rosa lutea from seed—not only in making R. lutea seed, but also by means of using its pollen to fertilize other species or varieties; the course taken, while diametrically opposite, came nevertheless to the same end.

"'Soleil d'Or' was immediately grafted on several specimens, and was carefully scrutinized; in 1896, it gave a repeat bloom, and its floriferous remontant canes were carefully picked out and planted, producing some reblooming plants. A fact worth noting is that the first plants, grafted in 1893, which were at first only occasionally remontant, became freely remontant afterwards simply due to the nature of the variety, which took several years to manifest its characteristics. 'Soleil d'0r', bred in 1888, kept father Persian Yellow's floral coloration, though slightly changed the reddish-barked wood, like the Lutea Type, though bigger and more erect; the foliage, though having a certain resemblance to that of.R. lutea, is more ample and a darker green; when it is bruised, it gives out its own scent, resembling the fragrance of Apples. As to the scent of the blossom, everyone knows that 'Persian Yellow' produces roses which are foetid and offensive by nature; 'Soleil d'Or', on the other hand,wafts an agreeable perfume much like that of the Centifolia. This variety has also inherited the hardiness of the Persian and can withstand very low temperatures without suffering. If this variety keeps a certain number of its father's characteristics, such is also no less the case with its mother, 'Antoine Ducher', which it resembles in pretty nearly only three things: the shape of its pericarp, the perfume of its flowers, and its precious characteristic of re-blooming. As to the habit of the bush, it's intermediate between the two parents.

'"Soleil d'Or' will be for sale by its breeder this Fall [of 1900] at a price sufficiently moderate that all the trade will be able to buy it the stock available is adequate to meet demand...

"Following Noisette's precedent, who gave his name to a much appreciated group of roses, Monsieur Pernet-Ducher gave, with reason, the designation Pernet Rose, Rosa Pernetiana, to this new series in the genus Rosa, to perpetuate the memory of its origin. Though 'Soleil d'Or' is not yet in commerce, we [the reporter, Pierre Cochet} have been called upon to examine it under various conditions—particularly by a letter which its fortunate breeder was so kind as to send us—and we do not hesitate to sing its praises, certain that the future will validate our appreciation. As for anything more, the following awards bestowed on this new variety are sufficiently eloquent to preclude further paeans: [briefly put, numerous awards presented 1898-1900 at exhibitions or by horticultural societies in Lyon, Tours, Dijon, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Dresden, etc.].. .'Soleil d'Or' is a worthy successor to the beautiful roses that Monsieur Pernet-Ducher has bred these last years... We give Monsieur Pernet-Ducher all our congratulations! Due to his perseverance, the future holds yet further happy surprises for us."

Pierre Cochet's quote from Journal des Roses from Brent Dickerson's The Old Rose Adventurer.

ARS merit rating: 8.7
Personal merit rating: 8.5.
Hardiness: Likely USDA zones 6 to 10, zone 5 with considerable protection.
Shrub size: 2.5 to 4 feet tall X 2 feet wide.
Fragrance: 4.0, strong scent reminiscent of orange juice!

Black Tea Mrs. Sam McGredy
Dainty Bess Nigrette
Gray Pearl September Morn
Harry Wheatcroft Smoky
Helen Traubel Soleil d'Or
Hinrich Gaede Tantarra
It's Showtime Tiffany
Julia's Rose Verschuren
La France Vesuvius
Mme. Caroline Testout  

Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 2005, All Rights Reserved.