Garden 32(837): 503 (Dec 3, 1887)
T. W. GIRDLESTONE
LACHARME is dead. No other announcement could cause such universal regret throughout the Rose world, for in him we have lost the greatest of all our Rose raisers. Wherever Roses are cultivated the name of Lacharme has for years been familiar as a household word, and no name has ever been more eagerly looked for in the lists of novelties annually distributed. "What is Lacharme sending out this season?" has year after year been the first question as soon as the subject of new Roses has been mooted, and anything coming from the famous grower was always certain to obtain immediate attention and trial. For Lacharme not only has sent out more great Roses than any other raiser, but also sent out hardly any that have not proved thoroughly well worth growing. Herein no doubt lay the reason of the greatness of his reputation compared with that of other raisers, namely, that while they, though sending out some first-rate Roses, have accompanied them by many indifferent ones, he has sont out few that have not been in their day among the best of their class, and therefore his name attached to a seedling became recognised as a guarantee of excellence.
If anyone were to be confined to growing no other Roses than those of Lacharme's raising it would be a comparatively slight hardship in consideration of the fact that his seedlings comprise first-rate varieties of so many types, and, in fact, his productions may be said almost to epitomise modern Rose culture. For though his greatest triumphs have been among the Hybrid Perpetuals, yet he will also be remembered as the raiser of the first and best Hybrid Noisette, the first climbing Hybrid Polyantha, as well as of Teas, Hybrid Teas, Bourbons, and Chinas, and therefore a collection of his seedlings alone would afford abundant variety, while being of the best quality.
That a man should have been able for close upon half a century to occupy the most prominent position in the field of Rose-raising, in which the workers of late years have been so numerous, indicates the strength of purpose, skill, and determination to make the last achievement only a point from which to start fresh triumphs that characterise a great worker and entitle Lacharme to the respect as well as to the endless gratitude of all rosarians.
As soon as he had obtained a nursery, Lacharme lost no time in setting about raising seedlings. He took over M. Plantier's Rose establishment in 1840, and as early as 1843, only six years after the distribution of Madame Laffay (generally accounted the first of the Hybrid Perpetuals), he sent out Ernestine de Barente, a Hybrid Perpetual which enjoyed a great reputation in its day. This was followed the next year by Louise Peyronny, a beautiful light Rose, still popular and worth growing, and one season later by Mélanie Willermoz, more commonly called Madame Willermoz, a fine white Tea which, though giving considerable evidence of Bourbon blood, continues in extensive cultivation.
During the next ten or twelve years some score of varieties were distributed, of which La Séduisante (1850), Colonel de Rougemont(1854), and Paeonia (1855) are now the best known, and in 1858 the still beautiful and very distinct Anna de Diesbach appeared, accompanied by Virginale, also occasionally met with even yet.
In 1859 an epoch was marked in Rose-growing by the introduction of Victor Verdier, a Rose which, either by itself or by means of its descendants, of which there is now quite a large family, has attained universal celebrity. The origin of this Rose has been a theme of frequent discussion. In it some have seen the first of the modern Hybrid Teas, and certainly the habit, foliage, and smooth wood appear to indicate a strong Tea, or perhaps Bourbon influence. It may well have caused excitement when it first appeared, for although in some districts the plant is not so vigorous as might be desired, its flower is still unsurpassed, and at its best holds its own among the most recent varieties. Through Victor Verdier we are indirectly indebted to Lacharme for its numerous progeny, such as Etienne Levet, Countess of Oxford, Mrs. Baker, Marie Finger, &c, all of which follow it closely in habit and form, and are among our most valuable Roses. Madame Gustave Bonnett was sent out in 1860; and then, in 1861, appeared a Rose which alone was sufficient to make its raiser famous for all time —namely, Charles Lefebvre. This glorious Rose has probably given more pleasure to Rose growers than any other of its class. In it were revealed the possibilities of the Hybrid Perpetual, for in the combination of size, form, and colour it is not yet superseded; and though it made its appearance among a perfect galaxy of beauty that rendered the year 1861 for ever memorable in Rose annals, it is still, as it always has been, the brightest star of all that brilliant constellation. Unlike Victor Verdier, Charles Lefebvre, although numberless seedlings have been raised from it, has yielded no varieties so good as or better than itself, so that there is no Charles Lefebvre race, but the great Rose stands alone. It may be mentioned in passing that the dates of the introduction of both the last-named Roses are incorrectly given by Mr. H. B. Ellwanger in his valuable book, "The Rose." The year 1862 witnessed the production of further useful Roses in Baron Adolphe de Rothschild, Lady Emily Peel, Alfred de Rougemont, and also Madame Alfred de Rougemont, another valuable Hybrid Noisette following the first of the type, Louise d'Arzens, of the previous season; and among the additions of the next two years Lacharme gave the world another gorgeous Rose, still unsurpassed, in Xavier Olibo (1864), a Rose which is not over vigorous, but which is very free-blooming, and of which it is a greater pleasure to obtain a perfect flower than of almost any other variety. Alfred Colomb, still one of the best three reds, made 1865 notable, and quite eclipsed all its companion novelties, in spite of these including Souvenir de Dr. Jamain, a unique colour, but hardly large enough to satisfy the exhibitor, and hence, unfortunately, far too seldom seen; 1866 brought Thorin, 1867 the best of the Hybrid Noisettes, the evergreen (in every sense) Boule de Neige, as well as Coquette des Alpes, with Pitord, the best purple, while in 1869 came another celebrity in Louis Van Houtte, a grand dark Rose, whose maroon-crimson colour has yet to be matched; 1871 saw Coquette des Blanches added to the Hybrid N oisettes (Perle des Blanches coming the following year), and Lyonnais and President Thiers to the Victor Verdier race, which does not seem to flourish over here as it does in the neighbourhood of Lyons. In Madame Lacharme a Hybrid Tea appeared in 1872 among others, followed the next season by the even finer one, Captain Christy, said to have originated from Victor Verdier and a Tea; in 1874 the reliable Hippolyte Jamain and the fine-weather Comtessc de Serenye were the chief additions, while those of 1875 included the splendid dark Rose Jean Soupert, unaccountably seldom seen, and Henry Bennett, a dark Hybrid Perpetual with a beautiful petal, but not full enough. Lacharme's best Tea, Madame Lambard, came to us the following season, and has proved the most valuable addition to the rose colours; 1879 brought Catherine Soupert and the very useful autumnal Hybrid Tea Jules Finger, in the way of Captain Christy; while in 1881 came Helen Paul and the most beautiful white Hybrid Perpetual Violette Bouyer, and in 1883 another first-rate Rose in Alphonse Soupert. Clara Cochet, the new Hybrid Perpetual of 1885, has not been much seen yet, but the climbing Hybrid Polyantha Max Singer of the same date is a promising red climber, and much is hoped of the new Tea only just announced, Henriette de Beauvau.
Thus it will be seen what a giant's work that of Lacharme has been in raising Roses, and though he will doubtless have many successors, they will need to possess great ability, great judgment, and to achieve great success in order to excel or even to attain to equal rank with the great benefactor of Rose lovers all over the world who has just passed away.