Roses: Their History, Development and Cultivation, pp. 102-106 (1908)
Rev. Joseph H. Pemberton

The Noisette Rose (Rosa noisettiana)

*The original was raised by John Champneys, Esq. of Charleston, South Carolina

The Noisette Rose is a variety obtained by the fertilisation of R. muscosa, the old Musk Rose, with the Common Blush China, R. indica. The first of the race was raised in America* by M. Philippe Noisette, who sent it to Paris in 1817 for propagation by his brother Louis Noisette, and from this other hybrids were obtained. They were hardy and vigorous, but most of them have gone out of cultivation. One, however, remains, the pure white, almost evergreen rose, Aimée Vibert, sent out by M. Vibert in 1828. Later on, through crossing with varieties of the Tea-scented Rose, the Noisette approached more nearly to the Tea, although it retained its special features in perfume and growth; Lamarque (1830), Ophirie (1841), and Celine Forestier (1858) being good examples of this period. Lamarque is susceptible to frost, and needs training on a wall to bring it to perfection; the other two are quite hardy, and make good pillar roses. As time went on, and the flowers of the later sorts increased in size, the number of blooms on each corymb decreased, so that the Noisette Rose, for all practicable purposes, has been merged in the Tea, from which it is often difficult now to detect the difference. Maréchal Niel, a Noisette, is a case in point.

Reve d'Or

The special points of a Noisette Rose are (1) its scent, the perfume of the original parent, the Musk Rose, being very apparent, especially in the earlier varieties. (2) The manner in which the flowers are produced; it blooms in clusters, coming from one corymb—that is to say, the foot-stalks of all the flowers on a stem start from the same point, like the Banksia Rose, for example. To better understand the difference between a Tea and Noisette Rose, compare Madame Hoste, a Tea, with Caroline Kuster, a Noisette. These roses are much alike when staged as specimen blooms, but look at them growing on the plant. The former produces its flowers from different parts of the stem, the latter from a corymb. Compare also the growth and formation of the flowering stalks of Lamarque, L'Ideale, and Celine Forestier with that of the Tea, and observe how liable is the bloom of a Noisette—especially Maréchal Niel—to break off at the junction of the foot-stalk with the main stem.

A study of the Noisette Rose will assist us in the matter of pruning. Like the Banksia, it usually flowers, not from the gross shoots as do the Teas, but from the smaller secondary wood of a previous year. This being the case, if the flowering wood is to be retained, the plant requires careful pruning. On the whole it is better not to prune at all, except to remove the old and, sometimes, the very young wood, doing so only for the purpose of admitting light and air.

We have mentioned Maréchal Niel, sent out in 1864. Although a Noisette, it is very closely allied to the Tea-scented race. It is curious to reflect how seldom we now see it at the rose exhibitions. At one time it was to be found in most of the stands, together with several boxes of twelves. Why is this? Can it be that it is less cultivated in the open than it was twenty years ago? It requires special cultivation to grow it to perfection. It was, I believe, first brought under the notice of the British public by the late Mr. Benjamin R. Cant of Colchester, and it is hoped I may be pardoned therefore for quoting the following extract on its cultivation from the rose catalogue of the firm of Messrs. Benjamin R. Cant & Sons:

"If grown out of doors it should be given a warm, dry situation, on a west or south wall, and pruned early in April. To obtain Maréchal Niel in the height of its beauty and productiveness, it should be grown in a cool house, either planted out in the house or on a standard brier stem with the root planted outside in a carefully prepared bed, and the head carried under glass through the wood or wall side, just so as to appear above any staging (much in the same way as with vines). After planting remember the dry atmosphere of the house is likely to cause the shoots to die back unless frequently syringed until it is established and growing; water must also be given at the root when required. Prune hard back the first season to produce growth of two or three good strong shoots for training along or up the house about 18 inches from the glass, the next and following seasons cut back directly after flowering to these strong selected horizontal and upright shoots, from which you will thus get fresh wood for the next year's flowering. When the growth is young it should be carefully watched for mildew; this is generally caused by giving air on a cold or windy day. The disease spreads very rapidly if neglected. Care must be taken to stop it immediately it makes its appearance. Feed the plant well when thoroughly established and flowering freely."

We ought not to close these notes on the Noisette Rose without referring to Chromatella, better known as Cloth of Gold, a seedling from Lamarque, raised by M. Conquereau of Angers in 1843, and brought to England by Mr. Thomas Rivers soon after. The impression made upon him when he first saw it is worth recording. It is taken from his "Rose Amateur's Guide." Writing some twenty-five years later, he says:

"Even at this distance of time I have not forgotten the delight I felt on seeing this rose in full bloom at Angers in 1843. Its flowers were like large golden bells. The tree was a standard trained to a wall, and each flower was pendulous, so that their bright yellow centres were most conspicuous. Although many years have elapsed, but one yellow rose has approached in beauty this grand and remarkable variety. It is true we have had new yellow Noisette Roses in abundance, all of which were to outshine my old favourite; but they have all sunk into mediocrity, and we have yet to gain a Noisette Rose from seed equal to the Cloth of Gold in form, size, and colour, and as hardy and free flowering as Gloire de Dijon."

Cloth of Gold, before the introduction of Maréchal Niel, was an almost universal favourite. I remember seeing what appeared to be a very old plant of this variety climbing up, along, and hanging over the high wall enclosing the Deanery garden, I think it was, at Wells. Great sprays, rampant and vigorous, were thrusting themselves forward, hanging out from the wall and laden with golden flowers. I was but a lad, yet the memory of that rose has never faded. Another plant of Cloth of Gold I knew of was growing on a cottage wall near Studland Bay. About 1884 I was walking with a friend along the coast, and we came to an old thatched cottage standing flush with the road, the wall of which, on the roadside, was covered from top to bottom with a single plant of Cloth of Gold, bearing beautiful flowers. No fence protected it from the public, and we lifted up the hanging blooms and revelled in their perfume. I made a special pilgrimage to that hidden shrine of Flora some years later, but alas! the wall was bare, the old stump only of the rose remained; a severe winter had killed it.

Now one would like to know why Cloth of Gold is so seldom seen in these days. People say it is tender and such a shy bloomer. Has it really deteriorated, or is it because it does not flower the very next year after planting, and we grow impatient and set to work pruning and worrying it. Here are two examples of what Cloth of Gold will do if allowed to grow as it likes. From the size of the stems those plants were many years old, no knife had touched them, and patience had its reward.

This species seems to have descended from a corymbiferous species. The pedicels are seperated by a joint from the stem.


Plaisenterie (Trier x Mutabilis) inherited the jointed pedicels of 'Reve d'Or'