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Laffay, Jean

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Rose breeder   Listing last updated on 18 Jul 2017.
Bellevue-Meudon, Ile-de-France
Jean Laffay (1795 - 1878)

[From Catalogue descriptif, methodique et raisonné, p. xij] Nursery of Laffay, at Auteuil [in 1829].

[From Annales de Flore et de Pomone, Vol. 4, December 1835, p. 93:] M. Lafay, horticulteur, rue Rousselet-Saint-Germain, a introduit en France plusieurs plantes remarquables que nous croyons devoir signaler à l'attention de nos lecteurs. On sait que cet habile cultivateur est un des premiers qui se soient occupés de former de riches collections de roses dont le bon choix , joint aux gains superbes que lui produisent ses nombreux semis, l'a placé au premier rang des collecteurs et lui a fait une réputation justement méritée. Sa collection est en effet une des plus brillantes , et il est vrai de dire qu'il ne néglige rien pour la rendre telle; il fait de fréquens voyages à l'étranger, et surtout en Angleterre, pays avec lequel il entretient les relations les plus suivies , et ses nombreuses correspondances s'étendent à tous les points du globe qui peuvent lui offrir quelque nouvelle merveille.
Toutefois il ne s'est pas exclusivement consacré à la seule culture des roses; il entretient également un grand nombre des belles plantes du Cap et de la Nouvelle-Hollande , et chaque voyage est pour lui une occasion d'augmenter ses richesses sous ce rapport.

[From Annales de Flore et de Pomone, Vol. 5, December 1836, p. 68:] M. Laffay, horticulteur, rue Rousselet, à Paris...

[From The American Agriculturist, 1844, p. 22:] The principal rose growers about Paris are....M. M. Laffay, à Bellevue, mont des Capucins...
Jean Laffay is generally recognized as the creator of the Hybrid Perpetuals or, as he knew them, the Hybrides Remontants. Perhaps his greatest triumph is the rose 'La Reine'.

Laffay was born in Paris in 1794 and began his horticultural career as gardener to a nurseryman by the name of Ternaux. His main period of activity was from 1837 to 1855 in Bellevue-Meudon, near Paris, where he raised hundreds of thousands of seedlings each year in an effort to obtain hardy, repeat-blooming roses.

His early introductions were mostly Chinas and Teas such as 'Bengale d'Automne' (1825) and 'Mme. Desprez' (1835), his later ones mostly Hybrid Perpetuals, Bourbons and Mosses of which 'Great Western' (1858) and 'Gloire des Mousseux' (1852) are still widely grown.

[From The Rose Garden, by William Paul, p. 116:] raised many of his splendid Hybrid Perpetuals from 'Athelin' and 'Celine' (Hybrid Bourbons), crossing them with the free-flowering varieties of Damask Perpetual and Bourbon.

[From The Old Rose Advisor, by Brent C. Dickerson, p. 192:] It was in 1837 that Mons Laffay... sent to Mr. William Paul, his friend, the first cross-bred hybrid from the old Damasks...

[From The Ultimate Rose Book 1993, by Stirling Macoboy, p. 459:] A French raiser from the early and mid-nineteenth century, to whom the early development of the Hybrid Perpetuals is usually attributed. He used to raise seedlings in enormous quantities -- a couple of hundred thousand a year.

[FromThe Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book, p. 316:] Laffay, the well-known Rose breeder of Auteuil, introduced the first typical Hybrid Perpetual 'Princesse Helene' in 1837... From 1837 to 1843 Laffay produced eighteen Hybrid Perpetuals of merit...

[From Climbing Roses, by Stephen Scanniello, p. 45:] Jules Laffay [was] one of the preeminent French rose hybridizers of the early nineteenth century. Laffay was responsible for introducing at least thirty-nine new roses, and he is generally credited with having created the hybrid perpetual class. His hybridizing efforts were directed toward the creation of a rose that would be both hardy and remontant...

[In The Old Rose Advisor, Brent Dickerson cites this from Choix des Plus Belles Roses, p. 29:] Mons Laffay, who has developed many novelties, always dedicates them to English princes."

[Ibid, p. 31:] Jean Laffay... Born at Paris August 17, 1794... died on July 14, 1852 (April 15th?)...

[Ibid, p. 120:] it is to Mons Laffay, horticulturalist of Auteuil, then at Bellevue, that we must allow the honor of having actually created the race of Hybrid Perpetuals... he raised many of his splendid Hybrid Perpetual Roses from 'Athalin' and 'Celine' [Hybrid Bourbons], crossing them with the free-flowering varieties of Damask Perpetual and Bourbon... [Laffay] developed, in 1837, 'Prince Albert' and 'Princesse Helene'; then, in 1839, 'Comte de Paris', 'Mme Laffay', and 'Louis Bonaparte'; in 1840, 'Duchesse de Sutherland' and 'Mistress Eliot'; finally, in 1843, that superb rose 'La Reine', his triumph...

[From Old Roses, by Mrs. Frederick Love Keays, p. 177-8:] Monsieur Laffay, of Bellevue, near Paris, who had been very successful in creating new China roses and Hybrid China varieties, developed, during the 1830's, several new roses of hybrid and remontant character which set the rose-world agog and agoing. He told William Paul that he used Hybrid Chinas, especially two of Bourbon variety, -- 'Athelin', a rose-crimson, medium-sized, double rose, and 'Celine', pale rose-color, very large and double, -- which he crossed with Damask Perpetuals and Bourbons. The six years from 1837 to 1843, the dates from Laffay's first to his great 'La Reine', gave birth to: 'Princesse Helene' (1837), 'Mme. Laffay' (1839), 'Queen Victoria' (1840), 'Duchess of Sutherland' (1840), 'William Jesse' (1840), 'Mrs. Elliott' (1840), 'Lane' (1842), and 'La Reine' (1843)... [p. 179] The persistence of the purple cast in the color through so many of the above is very interesting, as this color hung into the descendants for many years... [p. 180:] 'La Reine' became the head of a big family of which many survive. Her descendants have, generally, the semi-globular form, are very large, fragrant, and show lilac in the pink or rose-color...

[From The Rose Garden, by William Paul, p. 16:] His residence at Bellevue, near Paris, where these Roses were raised, was a most enviable one; he lived surrounded with Roses and Chestnut trees, and his garden, though not extensive, commanded a wide and most agreeable prospect. The soil was a stiff -- I had almost said rank -- clay, and never appeared to have had much labour bestowed on its amelioration.

[From Ibid, p. 17: Laffay wrote to Paul in 1847 and said] it is very possible that I may yet offer you some good Roses, especially of the Hybrid Moss, for I intend to make a sowing of several thousands of seeds of these varieties... The Mosses will soon play a grand part in Horticulture..." Laffay's labours were chiefly visible among the Hybrid Chinese and Hybrid Perpetuals.... I should think one-half of the Hybrid Perpetual Roses known up to the year 1850 originated with M. Laffay; he may indeed be said to have originated this group, one of the earliest of which was the 'Princesse Helene'...

[From Ibid, p. 17: Laffay writing to Paul in the fall of 1847] It is my intention to cease cultivating the Rose, in a commercial sense... it is very possible that I may yet offer you some good Roses, especially of the Hybrid Moss, for I intend to make a sowing of several thousands of seeds of these varieties... I am persuaded that in future we shall see many beautiful Roses, which will efface all those that we admire now. The Mosses will soon play a grand part in Horticulture."

[From Old Roses and English Roses, by David Austin, p. 96: William] Paul tells us that the French breeder Laffay raised up to 200,000 seedlings annually -- more than many large-scale breeders grow today...

[From The Old Rose Adventurer, p. 519: Laffay's garden was established at Meudon on the outskirts of Paris in the early 1840s] on an elevated and airy spot, with a deep, rich, heavy loam... Laffay has had great success in raising roses from seed; his experiments have been mostly confined to the hybrid perpetual

[From Roll Call: The Old Rose Breeder, p. 273:]
Jean Laffay
... began his career with Ternaux
Auteuil (near Paris), France
c. 1860:
Cannes, France
... His grounds at Bellevue, overgrown with "brambles and chestnuts," were still intact in 1886, with his seedling roses "in a wild state."
... was in Africa c. 1851-1860, later in Cannes, France, where he is buried.

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