The American Rose Annual (1991) page 35.
ROBERT C. BASYE
I ACQUIRED THE HISTORIC ROSE, Reine Marie Henriette, from Thomasville Nurseries in 1962. According to Beverly Dobson's Combined Rose List 1990, it is now available in America from only one nursery in California. For its sterling virtues it deserves to be better known.
Foremost among these virtues are its vigor, its everblooming habit, its immunity to blackspot, its semi-evergreen foliage through the winter and its fine fragrance which persists for an uncommon length of time.
The story of the introduction of this rose, together with its picture in color, is best told in the French Journal Des Roses for 1878, page 153. I give the following free translation:
"M. Levet, rosarian, route d'Heyrieux, 73, at Montplaisir, Lyon (Rhone), has obtained, by a happy cross, a Gloire de Dijon with red flowers, which he has dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen of Belgium. This new rose, which is most unique among tea roses of the type of Gloire de Dijon, will be released to commerce by the originator beginning next Nov. 1, 1878."
The article goes on to describe the new Reine Marie Henriette rose as "a tea rose, a vigorous shrub with strong branches and few thorns, foliage dark green, flower very double, well formed and a beautiful cerise red in color." This rose was obtained in 1875 by hand-pollinating the tea rose Madame Berard with General Jacqueminot.
Thus Reine Marie Henriette = Mme. Berard x General Jacquerninot. Mme. Berard is a climbing tea produced also by Mons. Levet several years earlier from the cross, Mme. Falcot x Gloire de Dijon. We remark in passing that Gloire de Dijon was the favorite rose of Dean Hole, president of the Royal National Rose Society 1876-1905.
All three of these roses, Reine Marie Henriette, Mme. Berard and Gloire de Dijon are known as climbing teas. The growth, however, is not that of sarmentose climbers, where long, slender, fast-growing branches are produced. Instead, the growth of Reine Marie Henriette is slow and everblooming, producing a strong, shapely bush which increases slowly in size from year to year. In locations which are not too far north, no wood will be killed in an average winter; and only light pruning is needed for shaping. The influence of both General Jacqueminot and Gloire de Dijon makes it hardier, I believe, than the average tea rose. And the foliage makes it attractive through most of the winter.
Do not make the mistake of planting this rose in a bed with other roses. Room it must have, since it grows to a height of eight feet and a diameter of fifteen feet. Plant in the full sun, away from trees. Most important of all, provide a generous mulch, especially during the early years of its growth. Autumn leaves, six inches deep extending out to the full diameter of the bush, are best of all. With such a mulch, less water and fertilizer are needed, and weeds are not a problem. The full glory of this rose will not be attained for at least six or eight years.
"Queen Marie," as I usually refer to her among friends, is a triploid with 21 chromosomes. Triploids as a rule are sterile, but not always. "Queen Marie" in particular will set a few hips every year. They fall off early and so must be harvested early. The few seedlings I have grown were everbloomers, but I made no sustained effort in this direction.
If I could start over, I would make carefully selected crosses of the types, RMH x tetraploid and tetraploid x RMH, until I obtained tetraploid seedlings that would lift us over the triploid barrier. But will the virtues of RMH carry over to the promised land? Perhaps not on the first try, but a dedicated rosarian would try again — and again.
The picture of Reine Marie Henriette and Molly Price was taken in 1978, the one-hundredth anniversary of the rose's introduction. In that year lightning struck my television tower early one morning in October, with me standing only ten feet from the tower. But fortune was with me that day since I was standing inside the house, and the loud crack of thunder and a healthy surge of current was all I felt. Nevertheless I decided the tower had to come down.
My good friend Hubert Faust came out to do the job, and brought along his six-year-old granddaughter, Molly Price. We had plenty of rain that autumn and Queen Marie, 100 yards away, was the very picture of perfection. As the tower came down, I could not help but visualize the combined beauty of Queen Marie and Molly on that sunny October day. I had no camera, but I knew that photography was just one of Hubert's many fields of expertise. Thirty minutes later he returned with his camera and took the picture of Queen Marie and Molly that I will cherish forever."