American Gardening 19: 392 (May 21, 1898)

Rose Harison Not Harrison Yellow

THE history of most cultivated plants is considerably mixed, and that of the Harison Yellow Rose, most frequently misspelled Harrison, is no exception to the rule. It is hoped that the present statement of facts will assist in removing the obscurity of the origin of the Rose, and also correct the spelling of the name.

Our knowledge of its origin came from Miss Harison, the grand-daughter of the originator, and who for many years and until recently, resided in Clinton Place, New York, and is now living at their old country home on the St. Lawrence.

The originator, the Rev. Mr. Harison, was rector of Trinity Church, and had a garden in what was known as St. John's Park, and is now the freight depot of the New York Central Railroad, it was in this garden that the Rose in question was raised from seed of the Persian Yellow, and named Harison Yellow, and the family always thought it strange that the name should be spelled with two r's when the family name has but one.

This Rose was first sent out by the father of the late Thomas Hogg from their nursery in the then suburbs of New York, about the year 1825. Like many other plants it soon had a profusion of synonyms—the more common being Hogg's Yellow, Yellow Sweet Briar, and the savants called it Rosa Harrissoni.

Mr. S. B. Parsons in his charming book on the Rose, published 1847, gives it the latter name, but strange to say, says it is the parent of the Persian Yellow, the direct opposite being the case. Buist's Book on the Rose, published the same year, gives the nearest correct account of its origin we have ever seen. "This pretty yellow Rose was grown by a Mr. Harrison [here we have one r too many], near New York above 20 years ago and is evidently a seedling from the Yellow Austrian."

We are pleased to see this good old Rose, which we have known for 60 years, still has a warm place in the hearts of many of our old gardeners, as well as many of the new ones. To those who wish to grow it we would commend the following by the Rev. S. Reynolds Hole, on the Persian Yellow, which differs but little from the Harlson Yellow, and that little in favor of the latter.

"The Austrian Briar is a Sweet Briar also, and though not as fragrant as our own old favorite, it brings in the variety called Persian Yellow, a satisfactory recompense—namely, flowers of deepest, brightest yellow, prettily shaped, but small. This Rose is almost the earliest to tell us that summer is at hand, first by unfolding its sweet leaves of a most vivid refreshing green, and then by its golden blooms. It grows well on the briar, but is preferable when size is an object on its own roots from which it soon sends up vigorous suckers, and so forms a large bush. In pruning the amateur will do well to remember the warning:
'Ah me! what perils do environ
The man that meddles with cold iron.'

seeing that if he is too vivacious with his knife, he will inevitably destroy all hopes of bloom. Let him remove weakly wood altogether, and then only shorten by a few inches the more vigorous shoots."

CybeRose Note: The Persian Yellow rose reached the U.S. more than a decade after Harison raised his seedling. Hovey gives a more plausible origin, while adding another complication was the Rev. also a Captain?

*Hovey visited Harison in 1835, but published his report in 1837.

The Garden 25: 326 (April 19, 1884)
Harrison's Yellow Rose.— A few years ago I gave an account in THE GARDEN (Vol. XVII.) of all the American-named Roses up to that date, and among them Harrison's Yellow, which your correspondent "J.C.C." notices and speaks of as a valuable little Rose, whose parentage was unknown to him, but which appears to be a hybrid between the Persian yellow and some of the Scotch ones; and, further, that from whence this Rose came is not of much consequence. Now I differ from him somewhat, as I think it quite important to know the parentage of every fine plant or fruit, that we may know what hybridisation has accomplished, and as some slight guide to what we may expect in the production of hybrids. I gave the full account of this Rose in the Magazine of Horticulture in 1835*, pretty nearly half a century ago. It was named before the Persian yellow was introduced to this country. At the time of my visit to Captain Harrison he could not state what varieties were the parents of his yellow Rose, as he rarely kept any account of them, but made it a practice to fertilise with any variety then in bloom, and it is probable that the parents were the yellow Scotch and perhaps the Austrian Rose. But of this we may be sure that if the grand Marechal Niel came by successive fertilisation from the old Noisette Rose, we may yet expect, with the same perseverance and skill, a yellow Rose much finer than the Harrison.—C. M. Hovey

Prince (1846) called him Geo. Harrison, Esq., which agrees with R. Wright's conclusion (1945) that Harison was an attorney. Howver, Wright claimed that Harison was a bachelor, which contradicts what the anonymous writer (above) claimed about his interview with Rev. Harison's grand-daughter.

Two men who met Harison in person gave the name as Harrison. Maybe the amateur breeder was not at all concerned about fame and fortune.

I prefer to imagine that a rather shy man claimed to be a retired sea captain because this romantic tale was more interesting than the sad fact of being a non-practicing attorney. He was content to tend his flowers, and I suppose we should respect his privacy while being grateful for his known accomplishments.

Gunnell: Camellia japonica var Harrisonii (1841)