Chronicle 23: 382 (March 21, 1885)
TEAS OR NOISETTES
by "Wild Rose"
"Under which king, Bezonian?" II. King Henry IV., Sc. 3.
A FRIEND, the diligent secretary of one of our provincial Rose societies, writes to me:—"I am preparing our schedule, and am anxious to confine our Tea classes to those which are pure Teas, and to exclude Noisettes. In which class is Maréchal Niel to be included?" At first sight this seems not difficult, but on looking into the matter I have come to the conclusion that it is neither one nor the other, and that its real position is as a Tea-scented Noisette. The National Rose Society places it amongst the Noisettes, while such an accomplished rosarian as Mr. George Paul classes it amongst the Teas. A few remarks, then, on the origin of these two classes and their subsequent development may not be uninteresting.
The Noisette Rose has a curious history, and, although so thoroughly French in its name, owes its origin to America, for there lived about the time when the great European wars of Napoleon had come to a close a French nurseryman of the name of Philippe Noisette, at Charlestown, in South Carolina, who had hybridised the old Musk Rose with a Rose called Champneys' Pink Cluster, which he sent to his brother, Louis Noisette, a nurseryman at Paris. Pink Cluster was the product of the white Musk fertilised with the blush China; and John Champneys, its raiser, ought to have some credit in the matter although he was put on one side; and while Noisette is known, Champneys', except in America, is unknown. When Louis Noisette introduced the Rose it created quite a furore in Paris. Its habit was so remarkable, and its perfume so pleasant that everybody was desirous of possessing it. Mr. Rivers, in his Rose Amateurs' Guide, makes the natural mistake of supposing that the cross was (as in Champneys' case) between the Musk Rose and the China, whereas, as it has been shown, another generation had come into use, as much entitled to the term "Pedigree Rose" as many which are now so called. The tendency of the Noisette to bloom in clusters which it derived from one of its parents has been considerably lessened by the efforts of the hybridiser, who while producing large flowers has diminished their floriferous character. However much may have been thought at one time of what we may call the pure Noisette Roses, we hardly now ever see Aimee Vibert, Fellenberg, Lamarck, or Jeanne d'Arc; whether this is right or not I do not pretend to say, but they are certainly not exhibition Roses, and hence, probably, the neglect into which they have fallen. Probably the oldest of these Tea-scented Roses is Jaune, although often called Jean Desprez or Jaune Desprez from the name of the raiser; it was introduced in the year 1838. The best known, and, taking it all in all, when seen in perfection, the finest yellow Rose, Cloth of Gold or Chromatelle, was brought out by Coquereau in the year 1843; it was in this year that Mr. Rivers saw it at Angers, and describes the buds as hanging down and being like golden balls. This is much more like a description of Maréchal Niel than Cloth of Gold, for its superiority to Maréchal Niel consists, I think, in the bold manner in which it holds itself erect. Mr. Alex. Hill Gray has described in the Rosarians' Year Book for the present year what it is in the Azores, and it is unquestionably better suited for a warmer climate than ours—although on a wall close by me there was a magnificent tree of it, on which I had veritable clusters of grand flowers until the ruthless hand of an improving (?) gardener cut it hard back, and it has not yet recovered the treatment.
Mr. Rivers is inclined to place that favourite Rose, Gloire de Dijon, amongst the Teas. Mr. Elwanger calls it a climbing Tea, and in the National Rose Society's Catalogue it is placed amongst the Teas and called the parent of a hardy race of Tea Roses; yet it bears a very striking analogy to the Noisettes: it is like them impatient of the knife, and has the long rambling habit of the older type of Noisette Roses. Unfortunately we cannot determine its parentage; it came up, as Jacotot himself told me, as a chance seedling in his garden at Dijon. He pointed out to me the very spot. And what a success it has been! In all places and under all circumstances old "Glory of John" comes to the fore; nor do I think that any of its progeny have eclipsed it. Madame Trifle, Madame Bérard, Belle Lyonnaise, Bouquet d'Or, Jeanne d'Arc, are all good Roses, but the comely mother of them all is still unsurpassed. Maréchal Niel is the next claimant for a place; its place is, however, pretty well defined: as far as quality and popularity are concerned it is facile princeps of all Roses; it must, however, be considered, I think, as either a Teas-scented Noisette or a climbing Tea; the former would probably be its proper position, the young foliage is so unmistakably Tea; and the perfume is so exactly that of the Tea that it would seem to be difficult to disassociate it from that class. Its origin is unknown. It was raised by Pradel, and is said to be a seedling from Isabella Gray, itself a seedling from Cloth of Gold. It may be, perhaps, said that its habit is very improper for a Tea, that there is "rampageousness" about it, which shows that it is not fit company for such modest maidens as Catherine Mermet, Comtesse de Nadaillac, Marie Van Houtte, &c.; but this will hardly hold. There cannot be a finer Tea than Devoniensis, the only one of its class (until very recently) raised in England, and we can all testify to what a lovely Rose it is; although amongst the tenderer varieties of a popular class, yet see what it has come to be in climbing Devoniensis. This, as we know, Mr. Pavitt observed in his garden as a stray shoot; it has been fixed, and while the normal plant will grow its couple of feet in the year, shoots of the climbing variety 16 to 20 feet long in one season are not uncommon.
There is one point in which all these Roses—Gloire de Dijon, Madame Bérard, Maréchal Niel, Cloth of Gold, &c—have a complete accord with the Noisettes, they do not like the knife; pruning leads to growth, but not to flowering, and all who wish to grow Maréchal Niel out-of-doors are advised to spare, not the root, but the knife; and yet there are plants of it not far from me which are cut about with as little ceremony as a Gooseberry bush, and yet they bloom profusely. Why this should be I know not, but it is an exception to the general rule, and to the advice of all rosarians. I must, therefore, regard Maréchal Niel, not as a true Noisette, nor a true Tea, but as a combination of both—and in truth, whether by chance or artificial cross-fertilisation, the classes of Roses have got irretrievably mixed. Tea influence is to be traced in many of our hybrid perpetuals, in such Roses as La France, Captain Christy, Jules Finger, and others; while the influence of the Noisette is seen in such Roses as Coquette des Alpes, Coquette des Blanches, Baronne de Maynard, and others, mostly due to the well-known raiser Lacharme; and that in Duchess of Edinburgh (Veitch) we have unquestionably a large share of the China blood, if, indeed, there be any genuine Tea blood in it; in fact, in the large class of hybrid perpetuals it is hard to say which blood has not been introduced.
I have said but little of the hybrid Tea Roses, as they hardly come within the scope of my notes. I do not think that they have as yet established a very strong claim on the attention and love of Rose growers. There are one or two, such as Reine Marie Henriette and Cheshunt Hybrid, which are, especially the latter, very largely grown, and as climbing or pillar Roses they are unsurpassed at present; but like many other varieties which have been brought forward have no special merit, they lack the delicate beauty of the Tea, and the brilliancy of colour of the hybrid perpetual. We may get something of value amongst them by-and-bye; but at present, both in the garden and in the exhibition room, they are at a discount. Wild Rose.