The Peace Rose

The most famous hybrid tea rose ever created, the Peace rose is a cornerstone of rose gardens all over the world.

This particular rose cultivar is famous for its place in history, during World War II.

Interested in finding out more, or growing your own piece of history? Here’s what you need to know.

How The Peace Rose Was Cultivated

Maybe you’ve heard of the peace rose, or perhaps not. One name you might not be familiar with, if you don’t read up a lot on roses, is the French rose breeding family, the Meilland family.

This family has been breeding roses since 1850, and they started in 1850. The most well known rose produced by them at this time was a polyantha rose, called ‘Perle d’Or’.

The most famous rose breeder within the family is Francis Meilland (from the same family, numerous famous roses have been created, such as the Bonica Rose), thanks to the peace rose.

He began to develop this new rose in 1935, studying the new hybrid and testing its traits until 1939.

When he realized Germany was about to invade France, he sent cuttings of his new rose to friends abroad, in Germany, Italy, Turkey, and the US to make sure it would survive.

It is believed that the cutting he sent to the US went out on the last plane before the invasion started. 

A Rose Of Different Names

When Francis Meilland sent several cuttings to different places just before the war started, communication between the different people who received the roses just wasn’t possible.

This meant that the peace rose had various names to begin with. The Meilland family named it after Francis’ mother, and called it ‘Madame A. Meilland’, which is the official name for the rose.

The others are considered trade names which the rose is sold under.

In Italy, it was named Gioia, the Italian word for joy. In Germany, they named it Gloria Dei, translating from Latin as glory of God. 

So where did the name Peace come from?

In 1945, Mr Meilland wrote to Field Marshal Alan Brooke, asking if he would be willing to accept that the rose be named in his honor, after he helped liberate France.

Brooke refused, while he was honored, he suggested that the rose should be named Peace, as it would endure for a lot longer than his own name. 

On the day Berlin was taken, the trade name of the rose was officially declared to be Peace, on 29th April 1945. 

Later, at a United Nations meeting, the rose was given to each group, with a name that read “We hope that the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting peace.”

How To Recognize The Peace Rose

The Peace rose is a hardy shrub which gets between 4 and 6 feet tall, and between 2 and 4 feet wide.

It can resist temperatures as low as -9°F (or -23°C), making it a great winter hardy option no matter where you live. 

The star of the show, of course, is the rose itself. Each rose is capable of reaching 15cm across, forming cupped flowers in a graceful, light yellow, with as many as 43 petals per bloom. The edges may be pink or crimson, depending on the growing conditions.

They handle rain easily, and have a lovely sweet perfume which may be a subtle hint as you walk past, or much stronger, depending on the individual plant.

The bloom season is long, and the rose is capable of flowering in summer until fall.

As you might imagine, it’s an award-winning rose, and has won numerous awards.

It was also given the highest award a rose can get, the first cultivar to receive the World’s Favorite Rose award in 1976, and was introduced into the Rose Hall Of Fame. 

Sport Roses Which Have Come From The Peace Rose

Sport roses are fascinating. Instead of them being cultivated by us through breeding specific roses, new versions are created by the plant, on the plant.

You may notice a single branch or part of the plant which looks wildly different to the rest, or even a rose which is a completely different color. 

Some are produced consistently on the plant (usually in azalea or camellia plants rather than roses), and by taking cuttings, you can make a new variety.

This is how ‘Flaming Peace’ came to the market. It was first discovered as a variant growing on the Peace rose in 1965, with deep pink blooms.

Final Thoughts

With such an interesting history, it’s no wonder that the Peace rose is one of the most popular cultivars of all time, and carries an important message that we should never forget. 

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