Sunday, November 13, 2011

Something Old, Something New, Something Genetically Modified, Something Blue

Suntory Flowers Limited (Chiuoda-ku,Tokyo) recently announced the release in America of ‘Applause,’a rose they claim to be the world’s first blue rose. It was created by introducing a blue gene from pansies into roses. Truth be told, this rose is closer in color to mauve or lavender than blue… and is not the first rose of this color either. Here is a list of recent hybrid teas and floribundas with similar color that begin with the word blue in their name. There are at least as many with blue somewhere else in their name. And this list doesn’t even include miniatures, or climbers!

Blue for You, James, 2006. Blue Pacific, Evers, 2002. Blue Chateau, Teranishi, 1999. Blue
Curiosa, De Ruiter, 1997. Blue Light, Ryojun Ito, 1995. Blue Bayou, Kordes, 1993. Blue Chip, Warriner, 1986. Blue Friendship, Verschuren, 1984. Blue Ribbon, Christensen, 1984. Blue River, Kordes 1984. Blue Skies, Buck, 1983. Blue Glow, Cattermole, 1982. Blue Nile, Delbard, 1981. Blue Velvet, Perry, 1981. Blue Perfume, Tantau 1978. Blue River, Kordes, 1973. Blue Sky,
Suzuki, 1973. Blue Heaven, Whisler, 1971. Blue Girl, Kordes, 1964. Blue Monday, Tantau, 1964. Blue Moon, Tantau, 1964.Blue Diamond, Lens, 1963.

The hype about blue roses goes back even farther in rose history. That’s where my interests are. The following three roses are among my favorites.

Pictured above is 'Veilchenblau,' truly the first "blue" rose. It was hybridized in 1909 by Johann Schmidt in Germany. Its name means violet blue. At that time, ramblers were the rage. 'Veilchenblau's flowers are violet, fading to lavender with white stripes. Like most ramblers it is once blooming, but what an amazing display of color. It's almost thornless and has a sweet fragrance too. Over the next 30 years, about a dozen "blue" ramblers were released.

'Erinnerung an Brod' is one of the parents of Veilchenblau. It was created by Rudolf Geschwind in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1886. It has been listed as a hybrid perpetual, a rambler and a setigera hybrid. No matter what you call it, 'Erinnerung an Brod' is beautiful. The fragrance is strong. The color starts out dark crimson purple and fades to mauve and lilac. The blossoms are very double. This was the rose I chose for my father's memorial service when we interred his ashes. Erinnerung means in memory.

Similar in color to Erinnerung an Brod is Bleu Magenta, pictured below. Although the flowers are smaller in size than Erinnerung an Brod’s, they are the largest and the darkest of the ramblers. I have it plant on one side of an arch with 'Veilchenblau' on the other side. This rose was found growing at the Roseraie de l’Hay. The original name and hybridizer are unknown.

Yes, ‘Applause’ is a lovely rose. But it’s obviously not the world’s first blue rose. Before you rush out to buy the latest and greatest, do take a look down the garden path at heritage roses. I am sure you will find many an heirloom worth preserving and cherishing.


  1. How lovely to find such a lovely rose blog. I found you because a goggled Erinnerung an Brod. You show lovely roses here I have just bought Erinnerung an Brod, Blue Magenta, Russeliana, John Davies and I am planing how I should plant them!!! Thanks for you informative text I didn't know that Erinnerung an Brod and Blue Magenta is similar in color.

  2. Fantastic photos. (Also found by googling Erinnerung an Brod.)