Heritage Roses In Australia Journal
(1988) Page(s) 26. Vol 10, No. 1.
Ruth Hoskins. W.A. "Agnes Smith" likes to grow doesn’t it? All the cuttings grew and I have now handed it out to other officianados with comments to do their own detective work.
(1988) Page(s) 14. Vol 10, No. 4.
Iris King, NSW Three roses nominated for propagation and reintroduction:
Agnes Smith - a superlative pink tea, always in flower. Given family permission, it could become known officially as Agnes Smith, the name it now goes by.
(1998) Page(s) 43. Vol 20, No. 4.
Gillian Batchen, Sydney. ‘Agnes Smith’ is another “found” rose from Rookwood that does very well in gardens. It amazes me that such a healthy, tough rose that flowers profusely with beautiful pink blooms flushed a darker pink on the edges, should have disappeared from nurseries. You can understand that sickly roses or ones that don’t perform would disappear from cultivation, but this rose has everything that is desirable in a rose, and yet no-one can identify it though many have tried.
(1992) Page(s) 20. Vol 14, No. 3.
Stephanie Murphy. In the old Independent Section at Rookwood Cemetery there is a beautiful Tea rose growing on the grave of Agnes Smith. The headstone reads:
AGNES Wife of Archibald Smith. Born at Whitburn Scotland. Died 19th July 1893. Aged 56 Years. Also
ARCHIBALD SMITH Husband of the Above. Died 23rd June 1901. Aged 66 Years
The plant is multi-stemmed, 4-5ft tall and as much across forming a well-branched plant, rather densely covered with healthy mid-green leaves almost to ground level. The flowers are produced abundantly from Spring to early Winter, sometimes singly on short angular branches and sometimes on stronger straight shoots, 2ft long in a cyme with 8 flowers. The flowers are semi-double, opening wide to show many petaloides and golden stamens in the centre. The colour is pink, not flat and uniform but subtly mottled with off-white in the inner petals set off by a deeper clearer pink in the guard and outer petals. The perfume of Agnes Smith I can only describe as light and sweet but in no way remarkable. It is certainly not as distinctive as other Tea roses like M.Tillier with its fruity overtones, or Mrs B R Cant which to me seems almost mentholated or my favourite Duchess de Brabant whose perfume I have seen described as 'spicy and peppery' but for me has a sweetness blended with the lightly tarry scent of a packet of tea. The identity of Agnes Smith is a mystery. Such an outstanding plant naturally excites a lot of curiosity and the idea that it may be Hume's Blush Tea-scented China has been suggested, so let's look at that......... [more to be read here]
Agnes Smith is only semi-double and the colour is a far more emphatic pink than could ever be called blush. Its young wood is not purple-red as Arthur Wyatt's plants were and it does not smell like Earl Grey tea as the rose in South Africa does. We know more about the origins of the woman Agnes Smith - she came from Whitburn, Scotland - than we do about the beautiful rose growing on her grave.
(2001) Page(s) 37. Vol 23, No. 2.
Lilia Weatherly: Hume's Blush Tea Scented China.
....In 1985, Robert Peace, from Victoria, was shown a plant on the grave of Agnes Smith (1910) in Rookwood Cemetery, NSW. Rookwood is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere. Hume's Blush was often used as a rootstock for tea Roses in the early days so it is quite likely to have survived in this situation. The cuttings Robert took have carried the study name “Agnes Smith” for several years. I have had a plant since 1994, and one of the photographs I have of “Agnes Smith” in my garden is so like Redoute's painting, that it looks as though it could have been used by Redoute when he painted his picture of Rosa Indica Fragrans! It is uncannily posed in the same position. When shown “Agnes Smith”, Roger Phillips thought it looked similar to the Rosa odorata he had seen in China. I am not the only person to be convinced that this is very likely to be the true Hume's Blush Tea Scented China. One nursery has already listed it as such........ Since I wrote this article about four years ago, I have discussed Hume’s Blush and “Agnes Smith” with lots of people. At the Rose Week conference in 1999, I met Elizabeth Carswell from Bermuda, who has since visited us. She thinks that their “Bermuda Spice” may be Hume’s Blush. She went off with a picture of “Agnes Smith” and will no doubt be comparing them. At Rose Week, we also met Akira Ogawa from the Japanese Rose Society. He too was interested in Hume’s Blush and went away with a picture of “Agnes Smith”.
(2005) Page(s) 21. Vol 27, No. 1.
p21 Esmond Jones. Teas like “Agnes Smith” which gives very good value for the twelve months with a surprisingly endless number of flowers which have a good fragrance, and not to mention the superb coppery red colours in its new growth.
p59. Esmond Jones. 10th February, after another inch of rain; a cool, overcast day. These are some of the roses that I have flowering now or are about to flower ....and – I am eternally grateful for Barbara May for bringing this superb rose into my collection - “Agnes Smith” which is covered in buds.
(2015) Page(s) 28. Vol 37. No. 3.
Hillary Merrifield, Billy West and Lynne Chapman. Renmark Repository April 2015.
Recorded on previous visits. Probably identities are given in brackets.
"Blakiston Pink Tea" ("Agnes Smith").
(2019) Page(s) 51. Vol 41, No. 1.
Margaret Furness. Tea, Noisette and China Mislabels in Australia.
Poly-Teas and Chinas.
Rookwood “Agnes Smith” is also sold as Irène Watts.
(2019) Page(s) 20. Vol 41, No. 2. Includes photo(s).
Margaret Furness. Mystery Teas in Australia.
“Agnes Smith”, China-Tea, collected Rookwood. Syn. "Blakiston Pink Tea". Also sold as Irène Watts and as Odorata.
Bloom form and colour vary with the seasons. Can be whitish with the palest pink blush, or can be quite strongly pink. The bud colour can be deceptive - often a much deeper shade of pink than the emerging bloom. The warm weather blooms are looser, with fewer petals while the cool weather blooms are much fuller. Prickles straight or curved, can be paired. Low-medium growth. Can get mildew. One possibility for Hume’s Blush Tea-scented China (see Lilia Weatherly’s article in the autumn Journal of 2011). The leaf colour in the photo below at Rookwood is incorrect.
(2021) Page(s) 16. Vol 43, No. 2. Includes photo(s).
Geoff Crowhurst, Alexander Hill Gray.
Although I noted the rose Alexander Hill Gray in the Tea Ladies’ book, it was not a rose I had previously heard about, or seen growing, so soon passed it over. Then one day when wandering in the Melbourne General Cemetery, I came across the plant which Robert Peace had referred to the Rumseys for identification – probably about 1980. Introduced by Dickson in Ireland in 1911, * 'Alexander Hill Gray' reached Australia by 1912, and being a Tea would have had a much better chance of doing well here than back in the UK. So the old plant in the cemetery could be approaching 100 years old, having obviously survived for many years without any attention at all.....
Alexander Hill Gray' appears to have very healthy foliage, and as pictured in the Tea Ladies’ book, produces nice reddish new shoots. It is said to make a medium size, somewhat spreading bush. It would be worthy of more attention than it seems to get currently. A quick check of availability shows that only Ross Roses in South Australia has plants for sale, though I imagine it strikes easily enough from cuttings if they can be sourced......
Alexander Hill Gray was a wealthy Scottish laird (property owner) who moved south to Bath for the sole purpose of growing Tea roses there......
Ed: re-titled Yellow Maman Cochet or Yellow Cochet, by some nurseries - as were several other roses - for marketing purposes. In Bermuda it is known as “Soncy”.