Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lovely Louise

'Louise Odier', blooming in clusters
Oh, how I miss the roses here, trapped deep in Winter.  I miss the sunshine on their cheery petals and sweet fragrances on every breeze and their fetching colors against the dark green foliage.  I miss the pollen-coated bees busily buzzing around, and the swelling buds, and the first glimpse of each happy bloom. 

This morning, I was thinking how much I miss 'Louise Odier', the classic pink Bourbon bred in 1851.  She, more formally addressed as 'Madame Louise Odier' but properly exhibited only under 'Louise Odier', carries an 8.4 rating by the ARS and she is eligible for "Dowager Queen" in a show if you participate in such momentary breaks with sanity.  A deep pink, double Bourbon of the most refined cupped and quartered form, she often unveils a green button eye as she fully opens her 3 inch flowers.  'Louise Odier' grows in a vase-like shape with thick tall canes and she does have a bit of blackspot in my garden, but she's never completely naked.  She blooms repeatedly over the summer with one of the strongest fragrances of rosedom, a credit to her Bourbon heritage.  I grew her as my first Bourbon and I still love to bury my nose in those first large blooms of summer.  
I've grown 'Louise Odier' for over 20 years in two different gardens, and she will be one of the last roses I surrender when vigor and strength fail me.  She's been hardy most winters in my Zone-5-becoming-6B-garden, but she does suffer in an occasionally cold year and may die back halfway.  I've seen her reach 7 feet at the end of a summer and I've seen her struggle to reach 4 feet, but she always blooms dependably, even if it is in a mid-1800's, I-don't-have-much-foliage-but-look-at-my-big-blooms sort of way.

While seeking information this morning about her provenance, I noted the following entry (attributed to Brent C. Dickerson in The Old Rose Adventurer): "[Dickerson speculates] that this rose was named after the wife or daughter of James Odier, nurseryman of Bellevue, near Paris, who was active at the time 'Louise Odier' [the rose] was introduced. Monsieur Odier was indeed also a rosebreeder, having bred and introduced the early (1849) Hybrid Tea 'Gigantesque'. He may well thus have been the actual breeder of 'Louise Odier', Margottin later purchasing full propagation rights from him."   And thus I was led to place three books by Brent Dickerson on my Amazon wish list for the next time I place an order.  I had never heard of them before, although I was aware of Dickerson, but I can't pass up any book with new information on the history of Old Roses.  I may not be able to enjoy Bourbon roses in winter, but I can imagine their scent on the coldest January day while I'm reading about them.


  1. We meet again, Professor Roush ! I hopped over to visit your blog, and what a pleasure it has been ! Your post about Louise Odier was very timely, as I am falling deeper and deeper into rose obsession, and contemplating buying this very rose! My addiction started with an occasional Floribunda, then I became hooked on David Austin English roses, and only now am I ready for the really heady stuff - the old roses !
    Which others would you recommend ?

  2. That's a gorgeous rose... interesting rounded form to the blooms.


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