Old Rose Garden Tour (France and Germany)

1993 Old Rose Garden Tour of France and Germany

By Louise Clements

On June 2 our party left San Francisco via Air France for Paris. We were led by Bill Grant, whose expertise in leading tours and dealing with the unexpected is invaluable. In Paris we were joined by David Ruston, of Australia, President of the World Federation of Rose Societies. We numbered twenty and ages ranged from early thirties to mid eighties. We counted among us those who knew much about roses and those who didn't. After a bus trip we transferred to another flight for Lyon. The next day we traveled about 35 km by bus to the Chateau de La Chaize, built in 1676, and now a famous winery. The Chateau has an immense formal garden with wide expanses of lawn and cultured greenery. 'American Pillar' made an outstanding appearance here growing over a gateway. We were to see 'American Pillar' possibly more than any other rose on the tour. Climbing roses were a perfect complement to the imposing architecture especially 'Albertine', 'Thalia' and 'Mine Alfred Carriere'. In the afternoon we visited Monsieur Denniger's carefully planned and maintained alpine garden. He had a magnificent bush of 'Cocktail'.

The next day was devoted to the garden of Georges and Odile Masquelier. And such a day it was. I generally straggled off the bus last as I was carrying a lot of camera equipment, and so I walked alone through the gate in a high stone wall into a breathtaking view. I gasped at the beauty around me and the promise of more as I glimpsed the vistas ahead. I decided that if I didn't see another garden the trip would have been worth just this one. A most delightful discovery for me was seeing 'Maria Lisa' a strawberry-red rambler with small, single blooms in full and glorious bloom trained over an eight foot support. 'Nozomi' was wonderful in large stone pots. 'Rosy Cushion' sat atop a stone wall near a walkway. 'Mermaid' flowed up and over the pool house, splashing her huge, single, yellow blooms everywhere. Peering over the other side was 'Long John Silver' a fully double, old-fashioned, fragrant white. Mine Masquelier says this is her favorite white climber. After a morning of 'photo-frenzy' we were treated to a incredibly sumptuous feast on the cool patio, before we ventured into the sunshine to take more pictures. 'Mrs. F.W. Flight' was a voluptuous sight along the pergola by the upper wall of the garden. David Austin's 'Hero' was resplendent near a wrought iron gate. But the queen of the garden for me was 'Cerise Bouquet'. A huge bush measuring twelve feet tall and just as wide, its arching branches bore lovely, fully double, crimson-cerise blooms the full length of each branch. Mine Masquelier has five hundred rose varieties in her 2 acre garden including three of our introductions: 'Aptos', 'Lyda Rose' and 'Mateo's Silk Butterflies'. Climbing roses scampered up trees with wild abandon. This was a garden with liveability. Carefully tended but not contrived, the beds of roses and perennials enveloped the green lawns, bricked paths and patios with inviting color, texture and fragrance. We were grateful for the privilege we'd had and reluctant to leave at the end of the day.

Tete d'Or was a city park and garden with educational overtones. It was so large we had to take a motorized, rubber tire train through the park to see the various gardens. There was a large, formal planting of hybrid teas but I was more interested in the old roses. I was particularly interested in seeing the Geschwind roses which were trained for the most part on supports about 8 ft. tall. I sniffed 'Souv. de Brod' and nearly drowned on the dew filled petals. With the next rose I was much more careful. 'Spencer', as usual drew me to his side. David Ruston and I share a love of this lovely pink hybrid perpetual. 'The heps on 'Mary Queen of Scots' were impressive even in June.

The French public gardens, Bagetelle and Rosarie d' l'Hay were stunning in layout and use of roses. Roses in baskets, tree roses (or standard roses), trained on large umbrella forms and draping gracefully, roses on trellises, pergolas, trained on pillars, and trained into the forms seen in the photo on the back cover of this catalog. Overall vistas in these gardens were so effectively used that one could look from left to right and be presented with form and color that gloried the rose. Strolling through the pergolas and pathways and seeing the roses close by was equally entrancing. At Roserie d' 1' Hay 'American Pillar', 'New Dawn', 'Paul Scarlet', 'Alexander Girault' and 'Mrs. F.W. Flight' were used as accents repeatedly. The group first saw 'Rush' at Hagetelle and raved about it. When I returned home I found we already had it on hand and just hadn't put it in the catalog yet. In both these gardens we saw roses that are not available in the United States and coveted them. Nothing surpasses seeing a rose in full bloom at the peak of the season for whetting the rosarian appetite. Trips to other parts of the world have opened up much for us in deciding what to import and include, in our catalog in future. We have, now, four hundred varieties which we are evaluating for potential presentation.

A free day in Paris found me in the Louvre, a life-long dream come true. Though it would take days to visit every room in the museum let alone absorb everything, I managed to see enough to bring home lots of photos and satisfying memories. Ali, the garden of Andre Eve. A true paradise for the spirit of the flower lover. It fit perfectly with my philosophy for enjoying a garden.

A garden is a revelation: a celebration, enlightenment and inspiration. First I want to just walk through the garden, I don't want to know the names of anything. I just want to experience the play of color, texture, and fragrance, to sensualize and celebrate the satisfaction and joy of it. I want to internalize the intention of the garden and see the gardener through his creation. That is when I notice what is planted side by side. What is at the back of the bed. What lies at my feet. What it is that draws me to a far corner of the garden, then I want to know the names of everything. After my curiousity is satisfied with information I can assemble sensual celebration with enlightenment and arrive at inspriation. How can I use what I have learned? How can I take all this home and relate it to those who have not seen it? Monseiur Eve's garden is small (35x 150 feet), lavishly planted, with a winding pathway and side paths that brought discovery and pleasure with every turn, revealing secret corners and hideaways. Andre Eve is a rose nurseryman and hybridizer whose creations are not yet available on this side of the Atlantic. One of theses is 'Suzon' a cross between 'Kiftsgate' and 'Joseph's Coat'. A beautiful, semi-double, pink and orange, repeating rambler not yet on the market in Europe. We hope to introduce them to America.

Sangerhausen was a step into another world full of history and purposeful perseverance. When it was a part of East Germany, dedicated rosarians kept the garden alive and now it thrives. Six thousand or more varieties are preserved here in the largest repository of roses in the world. They are planted in beds of like types: moss, hybrid perpetuals, etc. Everything is labeled and listed in a comprehensive guide. We were there on a Sunday and it seemed that a major part of the population of Sangerhausen had dressed in Sunday best for a leisurely and appreciative stroll through the park. It reminded me of scenes from the turn of the century. Though there may have been some who saw the whole garden; I don't think I did. I wandered through the beds of roses like a person bewitched. We were there at the peak of the blooming season and the rewards were rich. My photo log lists roses I had never heard of and so many that I wanted but I had to be content with taking pictures, which I did with relish. 'Pleine de Grace' called out to me with its arching branches covered with single, white blooms. 'Marchenland' was lovely as was 'Vogelpark' by Kordes and 'Munchen' a bright red single with equally bright golden eye and stamens.

Our accommodations in Sangerhausen were newly improved and our hostess gave each of the ladies in the group an old coffee pitcher (which we had admired) decorated with moss roses made during the time of the German Democratic Republic. Each of the men was given a beer mug.

Our hosts and guides in Kassel, Dr. and Mrs. Grimm, petitioned the city about 15 years ago asking to be allowed to plant roses, at their own expense, throughout the grounds of the city owned castle and park. Before the Grimms began their labor of love there was mostly greenery planted in the style of the times when the castle was first built. Now beds of gloriously blooming roses lend beauty for the casually strolling visitor and the serious rosarian alike. The Grimms' (mostly Mrs. Grimm) tend sixteen hundred rose bushes alone though they are in their eighties. Growing on the grounds is a bush of 'Hemispherica' which has been there since the late 1500's and is the oldest rose bush on the grounds. 'Verdi' a lovely deep violet bloom by 'Lens' was impressive. 'Venusta Pendula' was massive. Miriam Wilkins found a single moss rose that repeats.

In Dortmund the newspapers came out to the garden to take pictures of Bill Grant and David Ruston with Dr. Otto Bunneman the curator of the garden and our guide for the day. The city of Dortmund treated us all like celebraties with a noon-time refreshment and a message of welcome from the Lord Mayor. Several of the smaller gardens within Dortmund Garden were constructed around themes: Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Medicinal and an interactive garden with bells and gongs to ring. I was excited to see 'Improved Dorothy Perkins' and 'Improved Excelsa' which repeat bloom.

I haven't mentioned much about the food. In France the food looked beautiful. In Germany it tasted wonderful. I'm glad there is such variety. There were many people that were on the tour and that we met that I wish I could mention. It was a glorious trip. I'm so glad I went.