ROSE OF THE WEEK
PEACE Hybrid Tea. 3ft-5ft. 1939
This beautiful and outstanding Hybrid Tea is probably the most famous rose in the world. To date it has sold well over one hundred million plants world wide and is without a doubt the most successful garden rose of all time, and has often been given the title ‘The Rose Of The Century’
The huge opulent blooms are a delicious blend of colours. The petals are a lovely lemony yellow and edged with pure cerise pink that deepens and spreads with maturity. The perfect blooms form a classic hybrid shape and the blooms can be as large as 5-6 inches (15cms) across. Flower production is extremely lavish and the blooms last a remarkably long time, either on the plant , or when cut and put in water. The growth is strong and healthy with large glossy green foliage and is a very easy to grow variety. In some areas is has good disease resistance, but in damp conditions it does tend to get a bit of black spot. However that can easily be kept under control with spraying and a bit of TLC. The perfume is not powerful but does have an interesting fruity fragrance. ‘Peace’ has also been used in many breeding programmes around the world, and it is probably true to say that most of our modern roses are descended in some way from ‘Peace’The history of ‘Peace’ and how it came about is a fascinating story which is well worth telling. In 1935 the French rose breeder Francis Meilland chose fifty seedlings from his seed beds. One of which was labelled 3-35-40. Over the next few years Francis watched its development with interest and planned to launch the new rose as ‘Madame Antoine Meilland’. However a few months later Hitler invaded France and the future of the rose nursery looked dire. To ensure that the new rose was not lost forever Francis managed to get three parcels of budwood out of the country, one of which was smuggled out in a diplomatic bag on the last plane out of France. The budwood was sent to another rose breeder, Robert Pyle in Pennsylvania USA Over the next few years Francis launched his new rose in France as ‘Madame Antoine Meilland’. He was unaware that some of the budwwod had reached Germany and Italy and the rose was being sold under different names. In Germany is was called ’Gloria Dei’ (Lain for Glory Of God) . And in Italy is was being sold as ‘Gioia’ (Joy) Francis had not had any word from America and had no idea the fate of his rose over there. It was not until the liberation of France in 1944 that Francis finally heard from Robert Pyle that the rose had survived the war and was being grown very successfully . In the meantime Francis had decided to change the name of the rose. He wrote to Field Marshal Alan Brooke to thank him for his part in the liberation of France, and to ask him if he would give his name to the rose. The Field Marshal declined stating that a far more fitting name would be ‘PEACE’
The new name ‘PEACE’ was publicly announced in America by Robert Pyle on the 29th April 1945 , the very day that Berlin fell and was officially considered the end of the Second World War in Europe. Towards the end of 1945 'Peace' roses were given to each of the delegations at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco each with a note which read
"We hope the 'Peace' rose will influence men's thoughts for everlasting world peace".
The rose sold in its millions around the world, and the Meilland family were due to make a fortune out of the royalties that ‘Peace’ would generate. As an extra thank you from Robert Pyle he presented them with a brand new 1946 Chevrolet Sedan.Francis Meilland died in 1958 , but the family continue to breed roses and is still one of the most successful and highly revered rose dynasty’s in the world today After ‘Peace’ became so well known around the world, Francis wrote in his diary: “How strange to think that all these millions of rose bushes sprang from one tiny seed no bigger than the head of a pin, a seed which we might so easily have overlooked, or neglected in a moment of inattention.”
Portland Gold Medal 1944.
All American Rose Selection 1946
American Rose Socity Gold Medal 1947
National Rose Society Gold Medal 1947
The Hague Golden Rose 1965
World Federation Of Rose Societies, Hall Of Fame.
World's Favourite Rose 1976
Royal Horticultural Society Award Of Garden Merit 1993
'Peace' was voted the World's Favourite Rose in 1976 by the World Federation Of Rose Societies. The Federation also entered the rose into the Society's Rose Hall Of Fame in 1976 an honour shared with just 13 other roses.
Francis Meilland (left)
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