OLD ROSE

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Travel -

First up is ‘Madame Boll’, also known as ‘Comte de Cham­bord’ (see page 45), a warm-pink Port­land rose in­tro­duced by French breed­ers Moreau-Robert in 1860. Its strong, de­li­cious fra­grance sug­gests its ori­gins lie in the Da­mask roses, al­legedly brought to Europe from Da­m­as­cus by re­turn­ing cru­saders in the 13th cen­tury.

DNA anal­y­sis shows the Da­mask roses de­scend from the wild Rosa gal­lica (re­spon­si­ble for much of the old rose per­fume), the musk-scented Rosa moschata and the bran­scented Rosa fedtschenkoana. Robert de­scribes the scent of ‘Madame Boll’ as warm and heady, with a spici­ness com­ing from the moschata and fedtschenkoana an­ces­tors.

“If I had space for just three roses, I’d have to in­clude a Da­mask be­cause it is the rose used in per­fumery and be­cause of its his­tory,” he says. “For fra­grance, the qu­a­tre saisons rose [ R. x dam­a­s­cena var. sem­per­flo­rens] with its clear-pink flow­ers is my num­ber one rose. It is per­haps the old­est rose in cul­ti­va­tion and I like to think per­haps the one as­so­ci­ated with Cleopa­tra. It has a more bril­liant fra­grance than ‘Comte de Cham­bord’ [ R. ‘ Madame Boll’] – in­tox­i­cat­ing.” It re­peat flow­ers too, so the fra­grance can linger longer in your mem­ory.

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