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Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Marechal Niel
Photo taken at Rosalinda's Garden in Charleston, SC

The Noisette roses, a class of old garden roses, was the first class of roses bred, evaluated and introduced to the world by the United States. The Noisette class started in Charles Town (Charleston), South Carolina by John Champneys. John Champneys was the son of a well-to-do loyalist who decided to remain loyal to England during the revolutionary war and was forced to flee back to London after Charles Town fell. His estate at that time was worth around 20,000 pound sterling. After the war he tried to return to Charles Town but was not received with open arms. Being forced to flee back to England he was able to seek restitution for his estate for only 5,000 pound sterling. On his way back to Charles Town for the second time, his ship had been hijacked twice and in the process he lost two family members.

When he finally made it back to Charles Town he was not able to get the family estate back. He did purchase a piece of property just down the river, which had a well-known pleasure garden. This is where he was landscaping, and hybridizing. Somewhere between 1800 and 1814, John Champneys crossed Rosa moschata ‘Musk Rose’ and Rosa chinensis ‘Old Blush’. The resulting seedling was called ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’. It was given to his friend and neighbor, Philippe Noisette whose family in France was in the nursery business and eventually hybridized a rose called Blush Noisette. Philippe sent cuttings to his brother, Louis Claude, who was running the family business in France. Pierre Joseph Redoute, the famous botanical artist included in his paintings of early 19th century roses one labeled “Rosa Noisettiana” and “Rosier de Philippe Noisette.” The name, Noisette, spread throughout the world by way of the painting. Philippe Noisette came to Charles Town from France by way of Saint-Dominque to work in America’s first botanical garden developed by the Medical College of South Carolina.

Noisette roses are very vigorous plant, with arching canes and include both bushes and climbers and are very sweet scented.  They are noted for their ease of maintenance. They require very little care and are very disease- and pest-resistant and drought tolerant. Noisettes produce small to medium-sized, double flowers with pastel colors and come in clusters and very fragrant flowers all summer long. Some can grow as high as 20 feet and can be trained to climb trees, pergolas or trained to wrap around pillars. They need plenty of room to spread out. Their most romantic quality is their nodding flowers looking downwards unlike the regular climbers whose blooms look upwards. They tolerate poor soil and light shade but flower better in full sun. Some are not hardy.

 Here is a list of widely known noisettes :

Aimee Vibert – 1828 - white
Alister Stella Gray – 1894 – light yellow
Blush Noisette – before 1817 – white
Celine Forestier – 1842 – light yellow
Champneys’ Pink Cluster – before 1810 – light pink
Crepuscule – 1904 – apricot blend
Lamarque – 1830 - white
Mme. Alfred Carriere – 1879 - white
Marechal Niel – 1864 – medium yellow
Mary Washington – before 1892 - white
Nastarana – 1879 – white
Princesse de Nassau – 1835 – light yellow
Reve d’Or – 1869 – medium yellow
The Charlestonian – 2000 – white
Triomphe des Noisette – 1887 – deep pink

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To join, check Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society