Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cardinal de Spread-Alot

It has surely been awhile since I featured a rose on my blog.  After I fled my garden in the heat of summer, the roses and I parted company for the year, except for a brief reunion in late September when enough rain came to stimulate a little late blooming.  My collection of pictures, however, has not been nearly exhausted and I'm going to use them to help us scrape through another dull winter in the Flint Hills.

One rose that I've never blogged about is my (surmised) 'Cardinal de Richelieu'.  CDR is a Gallica attributed to Laffay and dating from 1840, but at least one source has it being bred by Parmentier near that time.  Regardless, he is a low-growing (about 2-3 feet tall) but hardy creature, the worst of the Gallica spreaders in my garden, dancing all over the bed I've placed him into.  I tolerate those bad manners simply because of the prolific, very double, fat blooms and their deep, dark purple color, the darkest of the Gallica roses.  A once-bloomer, over a long period in late May here, I've also found that the flowers stand up to the summer sun and humidity of the Flint Hills pretty well, gaining a little powdery mildew on the leaves occasionally, but never fading too quickly in the sun nor balling up in the worst of wet Springs.  CDR has a strong fragrance, increasing as the petals dry, and very few thorns, so even though it tends to become a thicket, it remains an inviting one.  When it does get a little too aggressive, every two or three years, I appreciate the fact that the lack of thorns doesn't leave me reaching for a shovel to spade-prune it.

I call this my "surmised" 'Cardinal de Richelieu' because my rose is one of my cemetery cuttings, from a local grave whose headstone places the family in the late 1800's.  I could be wrong about its name and provenance, but I don't think so.  It fits the pictures, habit, and growth of that rose to perfection.  If not, then it's another lost Gallica, and a deep purple one at that.

The real Cardinal de Richelieu was Armand Jean du Plessis, a clergyman and French nobleman of the early 1600's, Described as the first "Prime Minister", he was the minister to Louis XIII from 1624 through 1642.  He was also known as the "Red Eminence" and quickly rose to power in the French court.  Richelieu was a dichotomy as a leader, ruthless against the peasants who revolted against taxes levied to pay for the Thirty Year's war, but at the same time, a renowned patron of the  theater and literary wings of the art world in France. I'm not sure how this particular rose came to bear his name, but Cardinal de Richelieu is still an honored patriot of France and the rose 'Cardinal de Richelieu will always have a place in my garden. 

Unless he loses his manners completely.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad to have been referred to your blog. I'm such a huge fan of Gallicas and these photos are gorgeous!!


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