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'Ispahan' rose Reviews & Comments
Discussion id : 86-559
most recent 3 days ago SHOW ALL
Initial post 14 JUL 15 by Patricia Routley
It is feasible that Nancy Lindsay brought back this rose from Persia between 1935-1939. Was she the person who named it 'Pompon des Princes' and did Graham Stuart Thomas rename it 'Ispahan'?
Reply #1 of 5 posted 23 JUL 16 by Hardy
I've read that the book, 'Rosen - die große Enzyklopädie,' states that it was brought to England by Norah Lindsay, but don't have that book, can't vouch for its alleged contents, and wonder about it giving credit to the wrong Lindsay. Google Books informs me that GST mentions it as Ispahan, Rose d'Isfahan, and Pompon des Princes on p. 157 of 'The Old Shrub Roses' (1955), but I gather that no origin is specified there. Since he credits Nancy Lindsay when mentioning Rose de Rescht, Gloire de Guilan, etc., I'd wonder at his not mentioning her in relation to Ispahan.
<edited to update>
Pages 143-8 of GST's 'Cuttings from My Garden Notebook' have much to say about Nancy Lindsay and her roses, and the relevant points I noticed were:
She felt at perfect liberty to name found roses which she could not identify, though all but a few were later identified by others as already known and named cultivars. (I just added a comment at 'Empress Josephine' giving GST's main quote on the subject.)

She was very jealous and protective of her roses, and flew into a rage when she discovered that GST had obtained budwood of them from Kew, as she had let Kew have them only because she had been unable to care for them for a while, and believed she had an agreement that Kew would not share them with anyone. While she didn't feel too strongly about garden cultivars she found in cities, like Rose de Rescht and Gloire de Guilan, she was livid that Rose d'Hivers had been shared. She said that she'd risked her life in the wilds of Persia to get it, and considered it her very personal baby. She also did not consider its name to be final; she said that before Kew shared it, "I ought to have had stock of it first, and had it named and shown it myself... I'd always hoped that my rose would be named after me..." In her rant against Kew, she says she'd agreed "that none would be passed on until they had been named, shown and recorded and I'd given my permission." (GST consequently removed Rose d'Hivers from commerce, and unless Kew still has Sharastanek, her jealous guarding of her roses may have resulted in its extinction.)

All this leads me to believe that the names attached to NL 292 'Ispahan,' NL 465 'Sharastanek,' NL 849 'Rose de Rescht,' NL 1001 'Gloire de Guilan,' and NL 1409 'Rose d'Hivers' were tentative working names. Apparently Rose d'Hivers was supposed to be named 'Nancy Lindsay,' so 'Pompon des Princes' may have been what she finally chose for NL 292. Other than 'Sharastanek,' whose etymology escapes me, all of the names first used are descriptive, i.e., named after the city or province where they were found, or from the fact that Rose d'Hivers was dried for use in winter. I suspect that what we now know as Ispahan may not have had that name (or Pompon des Princes) before the 1940s, and while 'Mogul Temple Rose of Persia' points to the country of origin, I'm left wondering what it was called in Farsi or Arabic before Lindsay collected it and stuck her tag on it. Alas that we seem to have no Iranian rosarians here.
Reply #2 of 5 posted 24 JUL 16 by Patricia Routley
Thank you so much Hardy.
It was Nancy, and not her mother, Norah, who bought back the roses.
We actually have that reference under 'Ispahan' centifolia. As the Ispahan' damask also has references to centifolia, I feel that perhaps these two files should be merged. But I would need to do more homework on this and take any advice.....
I actually found the 1967 and 1974 references (in the damask file) of interest. ....and the 1829 one as well.
Reply #3 of 5 posted 25 JUL 16 by Patricia Routley
No advice forthcoming from anyone, so despite the differences of class in the two files, I have moved any reference of a double rose to the damask 'Ispahan' file, leaving references to a single rose in the centifolia 'Ispahan' file. They are probably the same rose, but I am a little cautious.

Probably the reason that Mr. Thomas did not mention Nancy in relation to 'Ispahan', was that for once, she gave it a responsible name and one that it had been known by beforehand (as well as adding her study number N.L. 292).

Taking a shortcut here - Virginia, does the 1877 p84 reference belong in the single 'Ispahan' centifolia file?
Reply #4 of 5 posted 3 days ago by Hamanasu
Hello, Norah Lindsay wrote of the moss rose of Ispahan as early as 1929. In her article ‘Roses of Long Ago’ she describes it very definitely as being mossed (3 times in a single line): ‘... the moss rose, ‘les roses d’Ispahan dans leurs gaines de mousse’. Those furry buds...’
Also, her daughter Nancy appears to have gone to Persia and brought back roses from there between 1935 and 1939. (This is all based on this source:,%20Allyson%20Hayward,%20Rosa%20Mundi,%20Vol.%2023,%20No.%202,%202009%20-%202010_djvu.txt)
Is it not possible, then, that the centifolia Ispahan was an old moss rose known in France (and to Norah), and different from the the damascena Ispahan known to us, which shows no mossing? And assuming Nancy introduced the damascena Ispahan from Persia, it seems unlikely it was she who named it Ispahan, knowing (as she must have done) that her mother’s favourite rose was a muscosa by the name of Ispahan (Norah described it as ‘the most lovable of all roses’).
As to Sharastanek, could this be Quatre Saisons (or Trigintipetala)? The source mentioned above quotes two descriptions by Nancy, one frome her own catalogue and one from a letter she wrote to Vita Sackville-West. The descriptions diverge in the flower colour they give, but the inconsistency disappears if the catalogue refers to the bud (which can approximate red in quatre saisons) and the letter to the fully open flower (which can fade to pale pink). Otherwise the descriptions seem consistent with Quatre Saisons (grey-green leaves, small clusters of double flowers, delicious and intoxicating scent, etc). The main feature that may give Sharastanek away as Quatre Saisons, though, is the description, in the letter to Vita, of the “lovely pointed buds with long ferny sepals”. (Intriguingly, Nancy also reported to Vita that she found the rose in an area now completely deserted, famed to have once been the place where one of Alexander the Great’s generals settled and built his residence, so that the rose might have been introduced by him; which tallies with the idea that Quatre Saisons has been known since Graeco-Roman times). Also, if Sharastanek is Quatre Saisons, it would explain why Sharastanek has, unlike Lindsay’s other introductions, disappeared from commerce as a distinct variety in its own right. Yes, a lot of speculation, but...
Reply #5 of 5 posted 3 days ago by Andrew from Dolton
Whatever Ms (Nancy) Lindsay says should be taken with a pinch of salt.
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Initial post 7 DEC 16 by Vesfl
The roses of Ispahan are immortalized in a beautiful song (mélodie) by the French composer, Gabriel Fauré, based on Leconte de Lisle's poem "Les roses d'Ispahan" (The Ispahan Roses).

Les roses d'Ispahan dans leur gaîne de mousse,
Les jasmins de Mossoul, les fleurs de l'oranger,
Ont un parfum moins frais, ont une odeur moins douce,
Ô blanche Léïlah! que ton souffle léger.

Ta lèvre est de corail et ton rire léger
Sonne mieux que l'eau vive et d'une voix plus douce.
Mieux que le vent joyeux qui berce l'oranger,
Mieux que l'oiseau qui chante au bord d'un nid de mousse.

Mais le subtile odeur des roses dans leur mousse,
La brise qui se joue autour de l'oranger
Et l'eau vive qui flue avec sa plainte douce
Ont un charme plus sûr que ton amour léger!

Ô Leïlah! depuis que de leur vol léger
Tous les baisers ont fui de ta lèvre si douce
Il n'est plus de parfum dans le pâle oranger,
Ni de céleste arome aux roses dans leur mousse.

L'oiseau, sur le duvet humide et sur la mousse,
Ne chante plus parmi la rose et l'oranger;
L'eau vive des jardins n'a plus de chanson douce,
L'aube ne dore plus le ciel pur et léger.

Oh! que ton jeune amour, ce papillon léger,
Revienne vers mon coeur d'une aile prompte et douce.
Et qu'il parfume encor [les fleurs]1 de l'oranger,
Les roses d'Ispahan dans leur gaîne de mousse.
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