|'Souvenir du President Lincoln'|
You can always choose to honor President Lincoln, however, by growing a healthy red Bourbon rose named 'Souvenir du President Lincoln'. He was bred by French breeders Robert and Moreau in 1865, the year of Lincoln's assassination. I have a little trouble, myself, calling him red since he is more of a magenta-pink in my garden, perhaps showing a little fuchsia overtone from time to time. In fact, there is some broad acceptance in the rose world that the rose currently being sold as 'Souvenir du President Lincoln' is not the original, which was indeed described as dark red, purple, or almost black. The impostor stands, however, with no rival; all the complaints about this rose differing from early descriptions may be accurate, but no other rose has stepped up as a candidate for the correct original. This current one will also not be mistaken for the more modern deep red Hybrid Tea 'Mr. Lincoln', but he has just as strong a fragrance as its modern cousin, and a blossom that is far more double, with about 80 petals packed into a cupped bloom.
My 'Souvenir du President Lincoln' is entering his third full season in my garden, provided, of course, that it survived this long winter as it did the previous two. Last year, as a two-year old, he gained some height, but his straggly nature seems more suited to being a pillar rose than a garden bush. My specimen has several thick and long canes that grew to about 5 feet high and then proceeded to flop. It is a very narrow bush, all legs and no torso, hoping only to find something to lean against. The foliage is matte-surfaced, and grey-green, and the rose suffered from some moderate blackspot over last summer. Definitely a Bourbon by nature, 'Souvenir du President Lincoln' is often described as an alternative to 'Madame Isaac Pereire, but in my garden I think MIP is by far the more vigorous bush and has a stronger fragrance.
It has been so long since I've written about a rose that it almost feels unnatural, a bit too "in-your-face" to a winter that has surely not yet released its grasp on my snow- and ice-covered fields. I hope I'm not tempting fate by thinking about summer roses during a minus zero morning.