Monday, 14 July 2014

Rosa 'Louis XIV'

The perfect buttonhole rose: tight and upright on Saturday.

Fully open and nodding, Sunday morning.
When I visited Dublin last year Helen Dillon kindly gave me cuttings of a plant I'd been coveting for years, Rosa 'Louis XIV' - see the entry for 10 August 2013. They rooted well in a simple propagator on my windowsill, from which they were brought out in late winter before growth resumed. Not long after potting up in April a rabbit gave them a haircut, but this was probably beneficial, in that it encouraged branching from low down,. When growing well I put three into a large pot and these are now coming into flower.

The first bud coloured-up last week and by Saturday was at its perfect best: a small, darkest black-red (the image is too light), classically shaped rosebud, held upright. I hope I shall have occasion to wear one as a buttonhole one day. By the next morning, rather surprisingly, it had opened fully and was now nodding, a somewhat informally shaped flower with the outer petals slightly darker than the inner ones.

It was raised one of the Guillot family, a dynasty of French rose breeders, and introduced in 1859. It's classified as a China rose, probably because of the size and form of the short twiggy bushes, but to me it seems to fit better with the Tea roses, with its flower shape and classic Tea fragrance. It's pleasantly fragrant, but not exceptionally so. 'Louis XIV' has a poor reputation for health and constitution, but I'm told that it does well in the warm climate of the south of France. Vive le Roi! (though that is perhaps not the sentiment prescribed for Bastille Day).

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