Roses are the perfect gift to show love, friendship, beauty, passion or purity -and thousands of varietals are named for famous people who embody tjust those characteristics.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is one of Shakespeare’s most-quoted lines – but actually, it’s just a paraphrasing. In Romeo & Juliet, Juliet is agonising over the fact that the man she loves is also her enemy simply because of his surname. She actually asks:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;”
Shakespeare misquotes, aside, let’s consider the fact that there are thousands of roses that indeed smell all the sweeter for having other names – those of celebrities and prominent people from history.
A Rose by another Name
The first rose ever to be named after a person was the ‘Dorothy Perkins’, named for the granddaughter of one of the owners of rose breeding company Jackson & Perkins in 1904. After winning a prize at the Royal National Rose Society in 1908, the rose soared in popularity, Dorothy became a global celebrity and the culture of naming roses for people, caught on.
Pretty as a Princess
Plenty of Princesses have roses named for them – but two of the most prominent are probably the ‘Grace Kelly’ and ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’ varietals. The former is also known as ‘Fire and Ice’ and was used to celebrate the Coronation of Prince Albert of Monaco, the son of Princess Grace. Developed in 1998, the latter was developed by rose breeders Zary in 1998 and is popular for its height – growing to 4-6 feet – its long stems, gentle fragrance and incredible beauty.
Swedish Actress Ingmar Bergman has a velvety, dark red varietal named for her, while the timeless Audrey Hepburn rose is a light pink hybrid tea rose with a light, fruity scent – a delicate but hardy flower named for the woman many consider to be the epitome of femininity.
The breeders of the rose named for the original blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, clearly missed a trick when they failed to name the flower the ‘Marilyn Monrose’. Regardless, the beautiful bloom is a lightly-scented creamy apricot colour which celebrates Monroe’s timeless beauty.
Spare a Thought…
There is a long-standing tradition of naming flowers after U.S. first ladies, with Michelle Obama, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush all presented with orchids which bear their names. Spare a thought, though, for Eleanor Roosevelt, who had the honour of having a rose named after her – only for patriarchy to dictate that it be called the ‘Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt’.
Is there a rose named for you, your Mom – or your favourite celebrity? Visit the Ludwig’s Roses Rose Search page, to track down a well-monikered varietal. Ludwig’s Roses is one of the sponsors of www.mothers-day.co.za, contributing towards the R200 000 worth of prizes which are up for grabs, before 17 May.