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Bennett, Henry
'Bennett, Henry'  photo
Photo courtesy of Tastasssya
Rose breeder   Listing last updated on 28 May 2017.
United Kingdom
Henry Bennett
Manor Farm Nursery

Henry Bennett used scientific breeding practices to create his roses and, in 1879, introduced ten of what he called 'Pedigree Hybrids of the Tea Rose'. The Horticultural Society of Lyon, France, dubbed them Hybrid Teas. Over the space of a little more than a decade, Bennett raised a number of roses that are so good they are still with us today. He died in 1890.

[From The Quest for the Rose, by Phillips & Rix, p. 96: [he was] a prosperous tenant farmer at Stapleford in the Wylye Valley near Salisbury, Wiltshire, but felt that his farm needed an alternative source of income... He decided to breed roses, the growing and showing of which was fast becoming a craze. His first attempts in 1868 were unsuccessful, so from 1870 to 1872 he made yearly visits to the major breeders in France. He was surprised to find that they did not practise the systematic breeding he had learnt while raising cattle, but raised hundreds of thousand of seedlings and selected a few of the best. At Stapleford he established up-to-date breeding facilities, with heated glasshouses for earlier flowers and to ripen the rose seed properly.

Bennett's first seedlings were ready for launching in 1879, when he introduced ten 'Pedigree Hybrids of the Tea Rose' emphasizing that they had been raised scientifically from known parents. These first roses were not very enthusiastically received as some were prone to mildew … The Horticultural Society of Lyon invited him to lecture there and decided to call his new hybrids, between Teas and Hybrid Perpetuals, Hybrides de Thé or Hybrid Teas … he died in 1890. Of his later roses 'Lady Mary Fitzwilliam' (1882), a Hybrid Tea, is important as a parent of 'Mme. Caroline Testout'; 'Captain Hayward' (1893) and 'Mrs. John Laing' (1887), both Hybrid Perpetuals, are still widely grown today.

[From Modern Garden Roses, by Peter Harkness, p. 17:] Henry Bennett built a greenhouse, grew his parent plants in pots, heated the house so the roses would bloom in March, giving optimum chances for the ripening of the seed, and kept records to check the performance of his charges.

In 1879, Bennett launched ten 'pedigree hybrids of the Tea rose, altogether different in type from any rose before seen' and followed them in 1882 with 'Lady Mary Fitzwilliam'. Tea, Noisette and Portland are now fused to provide a potent ancestor for the 20th-century Hybrid Tea.

[From Botanica's Roses, p. 677:] Bennett was active in the 1870s and 1880s in Wiltshire and Middlesex. He pioneered modern methods of planned parent selection, working with Teas and Hybrid Perpetuals to create Large-flowered/Hybrid Teas...

[From The Ultimate Rose Book, by Stirling Macoboy, p. 458:] Known as 'the father of the Hybrid Tea'...

[From The Makers of Heavenly Roses, by Jack Harkness, p. 22: Henry Bennett started his rose career in 1865]... During the summer of 1868 [Bennett was pollinating roses by hand rather than leaving it up to Mother Nature -- a method which] had been known for at least twenty years, and was practised on a small scale by some raisers... [his early efforts produced] only a few unripe seeds...

[Ibid, p. 23:] From 1870 to 1872 [Bennett visited] all the principal French raisers to see for himself what they were doing... [he must have made a good impression on the French because they named a number of roses in his honor:] two Teas -- 'Henry Bennett' and 'Mme Henry Bennett' from Antoine Levet and a Hybrid Perpetual -- 'Henry Bennett' from Lacharme...

[Ibid, pp. 25-26: Henry Bennett's wife, Emma] died on 25 May, 1875, as a result of a riding accident... Their youngest child, Edmund, was [only] six years old... [The following year, Gilbert Nabonnand released 'Mme. Bennett' which was named in her honor]

[Ibid, p. 27: In 1879, Henry Bennett] laid down a barrage that reverberated through the entire world of roses [when he introduced ten varieties ('Duke of Connaught', 'Duchess of Connaught', 'Duchess of Westminster', 'Hon. George Bancroft', 'Michael Saunders', 'Nancy Lee', 'Pearl', 'Jean Sisley', 'Viscountess Falmouth', and 'Beauty of Stapleford') that he claimed possessed] 'greater perpetuity as regards blooming, greater depth of petal, and are altogether different in type from any Rose before seen...' He stated that his roses had been raised in a scientific manner... He published [their] parentage... Nobody had made so definite a point of crosses between two classes, the Tea-scented and the Hybrid Perpetuals... he introduced his ten roses as: PEDIGREE HYBRIDS OF THE TEA ROSE... Rose raisers made haste to follow him... [although it never materialized, Henry Bennett claimed he would produce] the first yellow Hybrid Perpetual [from] a cross between 'Victor Verdier' and 'Isabella Sprunt'...

[Ibid, p. 28: Within only one year,] Benjamin Cant wrote in his catalogue: 'Bennett's Hybrid Tea Roses have turned out with me to be perfectly worthless. It is as well to give them a trial for another year before throwing them away, which I expect will be their ultimate fate..." George Paul later wrote: 'Though not immediately successful, [Henry Bennett's] original ideas were right, and he made for himself a name as a successful and original raiser of Roses by a process involving method and skill...

[Ibid, p. 29:] in 1880 and 1881, [Henry Bennett gave] up Manor Farm and [moved] from Stapleford to Shepperton, as village in Middlesex, outside London... He leased and moved into Kilmiston House at Shepperton in 1882...

[Ibid, p. 32: Edward Bennett followed in his father's footsteps] at William Paul's Nursery in Waltham Cross, and then at Bide's in Farnham, Surrey. In 1911 he emigrated to Australia, where he grew roses for cutting in Queensland. He died in his nineties... c. 1888 Henry Bennett visited America... Henry Bennett died at Shepperton on the twelfth of August 1890, from cirrhosis of the liver. He was sixty-seven... [he lies buried in the churchyard in Stapleford]...

[From Origin of Rose Types, by Roy Shepherd, p. 35:] Henry Bennett should be credited with producing the best of the early true hybrid tea types.

[From Modern Roses II, p. 19:] Henry Bennett, Shepperton, England.

[From The Old Rose Advisor, p. 135:] Mr. Bennett was one of the first to practice hybridising in this country, and sent out his new issues as Pedigree Roses...

[From Roll Call: The Old Rose Breeder, p. 25:]
Henry Bennett: Salisbury, England, and Manor Farm Nursery, Shepperton, Stapleford, England.
Died 1890

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