Coming up roses
June is the month for roses and Sue Bradley has found a beautiful and elegant example named after a significant figure from French history
The names of the daughters of dukes and sisters of kings are often forgotten over time, but this hasn’t been the case for Adélaïde d’Orléans. A beautiful rambling rose acts as a constant reminder of the daughter of Philippe Égalité, the duke who supported calls for a constitutional monarchy during the French Revolution, and sister of Louis-Philippe I.
Adélaïde’s teenage years were dogged by the upheaval surrounding the decade between 1789 and 1799, leading her to flee to Europe for several years. After the fall of Napoléon she returned to France with her brother and his family and went on to play an active role in society.
She was also a talented artist and produced a number of highly regarded botanical paintings after receiving lessons from Pierre-Joseph Redouté, a man nicknamed ‘the Raphael of flowers’.
Adélaïde, who was born in 1777, was educated by a governess and lived with her teacher in England, the Austrian Netherlands and Switzerland during the revolutionary years, which saw her father meet his end at the guillotine in 1793.
Later she moved to Bavaria and Bratislava before joining her exiled mother, Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, in Spain. In 1809 she went to live with her brother and his wife in Sicily and subsequently joined them at the Palais-Royal in Paris, regarded as a centre for high society during the rule of Charles X.
Adélaïde never married and is primarily remembered for her devotion to her brother, for whom she acted as confidante. She’s said to have played an active role in the events that led to LouisPhilippe being offered the French Crown during the July Revolution in 1830. Her death on the final day of 1847 occurred two months before her brother’s abdication. The rose, Adélaïde d’Orléans, was bred by Jacques in 1826 and is a great choice for training over arches and pergolas. Once a year it produces sprays of small, pink buds that open to semi-double, slightly perfumed flowers that fade from cream to white, and its leaves are almost evergreen. In the UK it has earned the ‘Award of Garden Merit’ from the Royal Horticultural Society. Michael Marriott of David Austin Roses says Adélaïde d’Orléans remains a popular choice. “Although it only blooms once in the season, when in flower it is covered in pure white, very beautiful, fragrant blooms hanging gracefully in large festoons,” he comments. Container-grown roses can be planted throughout the year and thrive in rich soils, into which well-rotted compost or manure can be dug in or fertiliser forked into the top few centimetres. Some gardeners use mycorrhizal fungi to encourage a good root area. Make a hole that’s around twice the width of the rose’s roots and about a foot (30cm) deep and tease out the roots to assist growth and improve resilience to drought. Michael advises keeping the knobbly section of stem at which the rootstock is joined to the cultivar about 5cm below the surface to prevent wind rock and encourage roots to develop from the base of the stems. Water well during dry spells.