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"Comtesse Riza du Parc"
Growing in Australia

'Tea Bag' Di Durston shares how she may have accidentally found a link in the chain of discovering the true name of this rose. Read more below.

 

“Comtesse Riza du Parc”, the rose that we grow in Australia with this name, has unfortunately been misnamed at some stage in the import process when moving roses around the world. Some believed this rose to be the Tea Rose ‘Madame Charles’. The original rose is bred by Schwartz. France. 1876 and is a seedling of ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ syn ‘Comtesse de Labarthe’.

"Comtesse Riza du Parc" Growing in Australia

Di Durston, 'Tea Bag', Mt Nasura Western Australia

Old roses have been notoriously passed around by slips from friend to friend and sometimes names have been lost in time. It becomes easier to remember the rose that is growing in our gardens by using a name like “Grannies Rose”.

 

The colour descriptions of ‘Comtesse Riza du Parc’ from early nursery catalogues quote the blooms as being China pink with carmine reflections, shaded pinkish yellow at the base of the petals, on a copper ground. The Tea Bags soon agreed that the rose that we were studying for our research book did not match the descriptions written at the release of ‘Comtesse Riza du Parc’.


What we grow was imported by the Rumsey Nursery in New South Wales in the mid 1980’s. When I began collecting “Teas” I found our “Comtesse” being sold at a local rose nursery. I bought the plant and was particularly thrilled with my prize. The rose plant was not in bloom, however I was fascinated by the name. I have since discovered that the authentic ‘Comtesse Riza du Parc’ was available in Australia from pre - 1900 until 1922. We now believe there was an error in the 1980’s with the name of the imported “Comtesse Riza du Parc” rose.

Unfortunately there were no records of provenance of the rose at the Huntington Collection in California. I write now to let my Rose Buddies know that I may have accidently found a link in the chain of discovering the real name of this lovely rose that came to us from overseas at the height of the Tea Rose renaissance.


My “Comtesse Riza du Parc” once it flowered, was not one of my favourite Tea Roses. I just loved the name and that is why I bought her home from the nursery in the boot of my car. When it became clear that there was a confusion in the naming, and it was not a pink rose, I rather quickly lost interest in my “Comtesse” and planted her down by the back fence. Last year I had a real pang of the gardener’s guilts towards this rose, it was growing beautifully despite the difficult site that I had chosen for it. I potted it and until I could find a nice sunny spot in the garden I placed the potted plant temporarily by the Tea Rose ‘Safrano’ and waited to find a forever place for the rose.


Now this is the interesting part of the story.


What a surprise to find out that with the naked eye, I observed very few differences between ‘Safrano’ and “Comtesse”, the main one being that the pedicel is smooth on “Comtesse Riza du Parc” and on ‘Safrano’ there are fine prickles. There was also a higher petal count and a soft apricot centre to the inner petals.


How did this happen that I have had this rose growing in my garden for so long, around twenty years - embarrassment to say the least. I am left scratching my head and wondering how I actually did not put two and two together. I grow the two roses ‘Safrano’ and the potted “Comtesse Riza du Parc” side by side and recently observed the similarities of the botanical details and thought to myself that there must be a genetic link. Possibly one of the children of ‘Safrano’ or even the sport
‘Madam Falcot’. If it was the second thought, I would really be pleased because I have rose lusted after this rose for many years.


My “Comtesse” has similarities to “The Seven Days Rose” / ‘Madam Falcot.’ I have found through research that nurseries have grown it in Italy and also at Sangerhausen the world famous old rose repository. I have checked in the Rosen-verzeichnis from Europa-Rosarium Sangerhausen and find both ‘Safrano’ and ‘Madam Falcot’ are available. Also growing at Sinta in Portugal, and a cutting was given to a friend who then grew from the slip.


I contacted friends in India who told me that it is growing in western India and also another ‘Madam Falcot’ in southern India in the Pune area. These roses have been growing in India for many years. There appears to be two different roses growing in India.

 

I have found a listing also in the Inventaire des Roses The` du Jardin Botanique in Lyon as ‘Madam Falcot’ and I have
photographed ‘Madam Falcot’ growing in a large public rose garden in Paris.


Descriptions from William Paul and Son Catalogue 1896 - 1897 from The Royal Horticultural Society, Lindley Library in London are below.
‘Madame Falcot’ - apricot-yellow, in the way of Safrano, but of a deeper shade, and more double; one of the best
‘Safrano’ - bright apricot in bud, changing to buff
Included in the images, is a black and white woodcut from Max Singer, Dictionaire des Roses, 1885.


After I collected my information from friends in different parts of the world I sent iPhone photographs of the fresh plant material comparisons of the two roses that grow in my garden to the author of serious rose books in USA, my favourite being The Old Rose Advisor. A delightful message come back to me and reads. “the similarities are so striking, I am thinking that it is the child of ‘Safrano’ namely ‘Mme Falcot’.


And so my story reaches an hiatus and I promise to give any additional information about ‘Safrano’ and child as it comes to hand. Can you actually believe that this baby took twenty years to hatch, sometimes it is a good thing to be stubborn and not give up, especially when it comes to the naming of the elusive Tea Roses.

Di Durston, Mt Nasura Western Australia

Click on images below for details.

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