SOUVENIR DE LA MALMAISON
Photo from www.classicroses.co.uk
Souvenir de la Malmaison
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Souvenir de la Malmaison is one of the most beautiful of Old Garden Roses. It is a beautiful light pink to white Bourbon Rose. The blooms are very full, 4 to 5 inches across and quartered with a lovely scent. The blooms start out deeply cupped with pale pink petals that turn to white as they mature. The foliage is glossy, medium to dark green on a thorny stems. The plant is low and spreading in nature (3’ high by 4’ wide), and it takes 1-2 years to become established. There is a climbing version (Bennett, 1893) which grows 8 to 12 ft tall and takes about three years to get established and then grow so vigorously. It was the climbing version that I received when I ordered Souvenir de la Malmaison and I kept on wondering why it kept on sending these long canes. I finally moved it next to an arbor and was very happy there. It gave plenty of blooms but the blooms tend to ball (not open) on wet weather making the very full blooms into a brown unappealing mush. The rose will outbloom most hybrid teas as long as it does not get rained out.
Souvenir de la Malmaison is eligible to win the Dowager Queen or Queen of Old Garden Roses at a rose show. Old Garden Roses are those introduced before 1867, many of which have a fascinating history. Souvenir de la Malmaison is a Bourbon rose, so named for the island where the first Bourbons originated. Ile Bourbon is an island in the Indian Ocean off of Madagascar, now called Reunion Island. The French colonial landowners in the early 1800s set off their properties with large hedges of roses, alternating the native China roses with a Damask Perpetual. A hybrid rose appeared that caught the fancy of the landowner and avid gardeners in France. Both seeds and cuttings of this original plant were brought to France and bred. The descendants of these roses are the Bourbons.
Souvenir de la Malmaison means remembrance of Malmaison, named for the gardens of the Empress Josephine (wife of Napoleon Bonaparte) at Chateau de Malmaison. Josephine was a devoted gardener and grew more than two hundred varieties of roses, among thousands of other plants. Souvenir de la Malmaison was named for her dedication and though it was bred some years later after her death, it is grown at Chateau de Malmaison today.