Reine des Violettes, bred by Mille-Malet, France 1860
'Reine des Violettes' is likely my favourite Hybrid Perpetual, although so far I have, admittedly, grown very few of them. When I first started studying the Hybrid Perpetuals, this one immediately caught my attention because of it's amazing colour. Most of you will know by now that I have a particular fondness for the darker colours.....crimsons and purples especially. Well, they just don't get much more purple than this one, folks! This is the actual colour of the bloom. (assuming your monitor is properly calibrated...)
I have often heard the Hybrid Perpetuals criticized as being a ratty, unkempt class whose sole design was to be a "bloom machine"rather than function as a well behaved garden shrub. This is true to some degree of 'Reine des Violettes'. Most of the H.P.'s were bred at the height of the Victorian craze of rose shows, where nothing mattered but the bloom. So the class as a whole suffers from being untidy, often sprawling across the ground and producing bloom at the ends of long shoots. The remedy for this is strict pruning and/or training techniques. Often people will peg the long canes down to the ground, which will encourage the lateral buds to break into bloom. (This is caused because there is a hormone that flows from the tip of the shoot that signals the buds below it to remain dormant. When that flow is interrupted by tying the canes into a horizontal position, the lateral buds do not receive the signal, and they break into growth and bloom! ) This works with many climbers too. My Constance Spry responds very well to this treatment!
This is not a fussy rose to grow, but like any rose, it will respond favourably to generous treatment. The H.P.'s tend to bloom in cycles, rather than constantly, so treating them well will help to make sure you get as many cycles of bloom as possible. Plenty of manure in the soil both at planting time and as a seasonal mulch is recommeded. You may want to supplement with Epsom salts and Alfalfa tea as well. Watering in a solution of Epsom salts is not an old wives tale!..... it is an important nutrient for roses which will encourage bigger and better blooms!
merit rating: 8.0
Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2003