I have introduced some of my favorite roses to the readers of the Town Crier, such as Pierre de Ronsard, Geoff Hamilton and Wollerton Old Hall roses. However, all of these are modern roses. I would like to introduce an old garden rose – Reine des Violettes, also called Queen of the Violets.
The old garden rose comes from a class in existence before 1867. The Reine des Violettes rose was bred by Mille-Mallet in France in 1860. It comes from the beautiful and historical hybrid perpetual variety of 1849, Rosa ‘Pope Pius the Ninth,’ and was very popular during the Victorian era.
The Reine des Violettes rose is a shrub moderately branched with shoots that contain few or no thorns. It can reach a height of 4-8 feet and a width of 3-6 feet. It is a classic, fragrant old garden rose with repeat blooming. The Reine des Violettes’ flowering time begins at the end of spring and finishes in October.
The flower is flat, well-formed and medium-sized. Its average diameter is 4.25 inches, with approximately 50 petals in varying shades of purple and lilac. If you like purple-colored roses, you might want to keep your eye on this gorgeous one. It was one of the first roses with a blueish color.
In the Bay Area’s cool springtime weather, the flowers are darker purple, and each is unique. It appears that the less direct sunlight Reine des Violettes roses receive, the more intense and blue the colors become. I always marvel at each flower, especially those blooming hidden in the shade. It’s very interesting to watch them.
The Reine des Violettes rose has a delicate beauty and a wonderful perfume. It emits such a remarkable fragrance that just handling the foliage will make your hands smell of roses.
It is a hardy and disease-resistant plant that tolerates partial shade. I planted this rose in a spot of my garden that receives roughly four hours of direct sunlight each day. It produces clusters with two to five pretty magenta-colored blooms per cane. It definitely adds a stately beauty to any garden.
The Reine des Violettes rose grows as a chunky bush approximately 5 feet square with glossy leaves that require hard pruning in the early spring to keep them compact. Cut those beautiful, vigorous rose flowers as a bouquet to encourage reblooming, while also having a vase at home.
Compared with modern roses, this old garden rose’s flower formation is delicate and sheer perfection. The color is a wondrous blend of deep pink shading out to soft purple. It is truly a unique beauty.
Michelle Isaac is a gardener in Los Altos. For more information, email [email protected] Julia Isaac contributed to this column.