I am always looking for great plants to write about and often stumble upon new finds in the most unexpected places. last year while looking for different color forms of Lilacs I came across a plant which was growing through a clump of them which would bloom soon, I decided to come back later and find out what form it was later. I knew it was a rose and it looked familiar, I had seen it somewhere before. In fact I see it every time I go to St.Ann’s Academy because the rose in question turned out to be a very healthy ‘Felicite Perpetue’ Rose (Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’).
Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ is a delicate yet vigorous Rambler which has been known since the early 19th century. Antoine A. Jacques was the head gardener to Louis Phillipe, Duc d’ Orleans for many years and took care of his estates which included Chateau Neuilly. Duc d’ Orleans( later the king of France) loved plants and had a vast collection for A.A. Jacques to work with. At Chateau Neuilly Jacques made some crosses of roses and named at least 3 which have gone on to become famous on their own. Those roses where ‘Adélaïde d’Orléans’ in 1826, Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ in 1827 and the less famous ‘Princesse Louise’ was introduced in 1829. Both ‘Adélaïde d’Orléans’ and the ‘Félicité Perpétue’ Rose both are easily found a rose nurseries, while the other is harder to find here at least.
There is some controversy to whether the crosses of Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ and her sisters were done on purpose or where accidentally. A.A. Jacques said at the time they were accidental. other people believe they were planned as one of the parent plants is believed to be Rosa sempervirens which native to southern Europe but not in the area where ‘Felicite Perpetue’ was found. Rosa sempervirens gave ‘Felicite Perpetue’ was it’s nearly thornless flexible stems and attractive clean foliage which is evergreen in most areas. ‘Felicite Perpetue’ is now the most widely grown semperviren hybrid grown in the world.
One of the reasons that Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ has been so successful is its tolerance to a wider range of soil conditions than many other Roses. Often these old Roses are found growing on old homesteads or abandoned gardens, such is the case of the one I found growing through a clump of old Lilacs. The Lilacs and Rose were definitely not part of the planned landscape found at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on Pat Bay near Sidney B.C. You will not find it easily as it is not seen from the roadside, instead you have to look carefully in the thickets of Lilacs to find it hanging down from above.
Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ grows best in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. It tolerates drought better than many roses and will bloom in more shady places. The leaves do not suffer from the dreaded black spot or mildews here, I have never seen it on any plants. The only thing that is a problem is aphids which are very common here. The stems are flexible and have few spines and have an attractive wine color which is shown of by the flower buds which are pink. This is a vigorous plant which can grow to over 6m(20ft)in height and width in choice growing places. Here it rarely attains more than 4.5m(15ft) and is often seen hanging down from within trees or shrubs. Little pruning is needed other than the occasional shaping, remember when you are pruning that this rose sets its blooms on the previous years growth of lateral stems and you should do any major trimming soon after it blooms so you do not lose the following years flowers.
As an old hybrid Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ flowers once a year and produces masses of smaller 3cm(1.5in) diameter blossoms which are produced in clusters. The dense rose-tinted buds contain as many as 40 petals which open a lightly fragrant creamy white, heat and sun exposure does effect color and deepens it. The flower petals do not fall of the flowers therefore deadheading after the blooms have finished is advised. Little pruning is needed other than the occasional shaping, remember when you are pruning that this rose sets its blooms on the previous years growth of lateral stems and you should do any major trimming soon after it blooms so you do not lose the following years flowers.
Finding ‘Felicite Perpetue’:
A little about Antoine A. Jacques, gardener and rose breeder: http://www.historicroses.org/index.php?id=40
Someone else stumble upon the rose and posted here: http://www.heritagerosefoundation.org/discus/messages/269/1924.html?1148962455
St. Ann’s Academy in Victoria B.C.: http://stannsacademy.com/HistoryResearch/Places.aspx
Where will we meet next… here I hope!