Photo courtesy of billy teabag
My Friend The Rose is a personal tribute to old roses written by Francis E. Lester, a Brit transplanted to California. Lester sang the praises of old roses even as Hybrid Teas had captured the hearts of rose growers worldwide. He described old roses encountered in old California gardens. Lester founded Lester Gardens, an nursery specializing in Old Garden Roses that was the forbear to Roses of Yesterday and Today.
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Francis E. Lester was one of the original California rose rustlers. In a chapter entitled "A Fortnight's Rose Adventuring," Lester describes a trip to the California Mother Lode country to collect old roses.
"There are not many members of the American Rose Society in this remote part of California, but as many as there are we called upon, always to find that warm welcome and kind fraternal response that binds its membership together. In one of these members' gardens we found a grand collection of the old roses...among them Chromatella, Antoine Rivoire, Souv. de Pierre Notting, Mlle. Franziska Krüger, Perle des Jardins, Helen Gould and the very old rose Dr. Grill. Here, too, we were led to the abandonned site of the former home, destroyed decades ago by fire. Among the tall pine trees...and half covered by wild blackberries and native shrubs, we found one of the Gallicas, the Old Spanish Rose...an ancient blush-white Rose, growing vigorously; and ancient blush-white Moss rose; and... a pink trailing rose with double blooms about the size of a quarter, with sinuous branches twenty feet long....In the same old mining town I spotted an enormous specimen of a Tea or Bourbon rose seven feet high and nearly as broad, in full bloom, with large pink flowers suggesting the old Hermosa of 1840, but much larger....I learned it had been planted nearly forth years ago...Everywhere we found the old Tea roses, always flourished and in bloom in the late autumn....We found Belle Siebrecht and Marie van Houtte and Bridesmaid and The Bride; Homer and Mme. Lombard....