The selection of roses for planting is such a fickle action at times. I sometimes seek out specific roses based on their reputations, while at other times I'm struck by a photograph in a catalogue, or an intriguing hint dropped in another blog. As a result, there are roses in my garden that I take almost for granted. Hardly noticed for their temporary beauty, they fill in spaces and trundle on year after year, never causing trouble sufficient to sentence them to elimination by spade, nor causing enough excitement to move them to a more prominent position.
Such a rose, in my garden, is the Centifolia 'Fantin-Latour'. I obtained her ten or eleven years ago, I believe, from Suzy Verrier's former Royall River Rose Nursery, and she has long been one of the non-remonant roses that border my back patio. Of unknown provenance, discovered before 1938, she is undeniably beautiful in bloom, a light blush pink with sometimes a green center, and her fragrance is sweet and very strong. When she is without bloom, however, she's a stiff, rangy shrub that wants to sprawl 4 feet in all directions and stands about 4 feet tall as well. I would give her better marks for appearance if she was the sole rose at the party, but placed in my garden next to my favorite 'Madame Hardy', she always comes off as a poor second choice for a dance partner. 'Fantin-Latour is less-refined and more loosely arranged in blossom than 'Madame Hardy', she hasn't nearly as tight or shapely legs, and she's much more awkward in appearance. Her stiff canes are gawky and never clothed with short stems or flowers, completely naked, in essence, from the waist down. In a Romance novel, 'Madame Hardy' would be the prim and proper Lady of the manor, 'Fantin-Latour' the blushing but willing peasant milkmaid who pleasures the Lord on his daily travels.