Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mme Plantier, I presume?

'Madame Plantier'
Just because I feel guilty about trashing a world-treasured Alba rose in my last rose post, I'll show you an Alba rose that I really wish I'd planted years ago.  My one-year-old Madame Plantier bloomed for the first time this year and I am most definitely impressed by the young maiden.

Unlike my spoiled 'Maiden's Blush', 'Madame Plantier' gave me quite a display this year, young though she was.  She was covered from head to toe for three weeks with 3 inch blush-white blooms, and every one of them just as perfect as the picture to the right.  No blight, no browning buds, no thrip damage.   I think "scrumptious" describes this rose best.  Somewhere, in my reading, I had gained an impression of  'Madame Plantier' as being less than a star, so I had avoided her until recently. What a mistake that was, because a star she is!

'Madame Plantier' is an 1835 Alba bred by Plantier of France.  Well, I think she's an Alba.  Some references list her as a cross of Rosa alba and Rosa moschata, while others list her as a Damask rose, the result of a cross of R. damascena and R. moschata.  Regardless of the actual heritage, the clustered blooms lose their blush as they age, much like a young lady growing into womanly maturity, and they end up flat with a nice button eye.  The bush is almost thornless, completely hardy without protection here, and completely blackspot and fungus free so far.  I've read that she's going to get much bigger, and the canes will stay flexible, so I've provided her lots of room for her anticipated 8 by 8 foot size and drooping arms. What a spectacle that will be!

While researching this rose, I stumbled upon a reference that characterized the scent of 24 Old Garden Roses, and so I can report that Madame Plantier contains 31.44% 2-phenyl-ethanol, 28.11% benzyl alcohol, 21% hydrocarbons, 8.63% geraniol, 5.91 % nerol, and trace amounts of 20 other organic compounds.  Do we really believe that we can take the essence of a rose and distill it to a few carboniferous chemicals?  Blasphemous! This formula is TMI (too much information) and reveals too much of the soul of this beautiful rose, and so I will now attempt to forget I ever heard it.  There are none so cynical as a rosarian who has seen a favored rose stripped of its mystery.


  1. You are going to end up "making" me put in a rose bed yet! (And definitely TMI about the scent components. How thoroughly disenchanting that chemical lineup sounds!)

  2. (Laughing) Might I refer you to my comments about the power of Zealots, just a few days back? Turnabout is fair play, since you've got me distracted by every butterfly that flits in my sight.

  3. As a fellow botanical serial killer, I have to say that Mme. Plantier will always be special to me, though the condition of my much-neglected bush belies the sentiment. My specimen, purchased from Roses Unlimited my senior year of high school received one season of haphazard and minimal care before being abandoned to its own devices upon my departure for college. During the past four years, it's been eaten nearly to the ground by marauding goats, surrounded by wiry, choking prairie grasses, subjected to drought and icy prairie winds, received no pruning or fertilizing, and only the most sporadic watering- yet it's formed a nice arching shrub of about 6 by 6 feet, and blooms gloriously early each summer. The only fault I could find with it is the high expectations it's created- I'm tempted to fault my few other surviving roses for their less generous and forgiving natures.


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