Friday, September 3, 2010

I Dream of New Gallicas

I've always been a trifle partial to Gallica Roses, which, tough and drought-tolerant as they are, generally survive the weather and soil extremes quite well on the Kansas prairie.  I grow several of these ancient roses, including the beautifully striped 'Rosa Mundi' (pictured at left) and the species, Rosa gallica officinalis, also known as the Apothecary Rose.  Both of these low-growing, cold-hardy roses are so old their origins predate the Medieval monasteries. Ah, as they say, the history those roses could tell us. And despite my personal dislike of magenta as a color, I grow a number of the "mad" Gallicas, including 'Cardinal de Richelieu', 'Belle de Crecy', and the most well-known of all the muddy Gallicas; 'Charles de Mills'.  

Recently however, on the GardenWeb antique rose forum, I learned of an exciting new possibility to add to my rose garden.  It seems that a rose breeder, Paul Barden, has picked up the gauntlet left behind in the 1800's after the China roses became all the rage and Mr. Barden has began a breeding program to introduce new Gallica's (among others) to commerce.  Rogue Valley Roses, of Ashland Oregon, is the commercial source for the Paul Barden roses and away I went to the website ( to see what I was missing.

Imagine, for a moment, you're a rosarian in the year 1750.  You have absolutely no knowledge of genetics, pollen, or hybridization.  Gregor Mendel and Darwin won't draw their first breath for decades yet, let alone change the world with their discoveries.  All you know is that occasionally, if you plant enough rose seeds, one will result in a plant that looks a little different from the parent.  If it's different enough, you pass it on to friends and perhaps provide samples for the Royal Garden of your area. 

'Marianne'; picture from 
Up till now, that is what has been available in the Gallica line; those chance, mostly dark magenta seedlings that Mother Nature provided us.  But now we're being offered Gallicas with all the colors of the sun.  Despite the fact that it's late in the growing season and many of the roses were sold out, I immediately ordered the peach-toned Barden rose 'Marianne', which is colored like one of my favorite roses, 'Alchymist'.  I planted it already, a few days ago, in my garden. If it survives the August heat and the Kansas winter, when it blooms in the spring, if it blooms in its first spring, I'll post a picture, but for now, all I've got to offer you is the breathtaking picture of 'Marianne' from the Rogue Valley Roses website.  

I don't know about you, but several more Barden roses will be joining my garden next spring.  'Marianne' will be beautiful, but 'Jeri Jennings', 'Golden Buddha', 'Gallicandy', and 'Allegra' are also going on my list and soon.


  1. Hi;
    Popped over to say hello and thank you for the fave on blotanical! I was in Oregon last week, drooling over the display gardens at Heirloom Roses -- suffice to say I'm dreaming of roses just like you. May have to invest in one of the Mariannes. That's a luscious color. Have a great holiday weekend! :)

  2. Thank you for including my roses in this discussion. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 'Marianne' is turning out to be a favorite of many enthusiasts around the country :-)

    Paul B.


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