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The Chinese Letter -Chinese Rose Notes

By Di Durston, Tea Bag PRHRiA


The good thing about making a New Year resolution to clear out one's office is to find a whole lot of interesting paperwork that needs to be passed on for others to read.


The pink file has revealed a letter from Hazel Le Rougetel in 2001. Even though page 2 is missing (it never arrived in the envelope) I hope this will not spoil the read of these old Chinese Rose names and their descriptions from the past.


For those who have not read Hazel’s book “ A Heritage of Roses” do yourself a great favour - you

will not be able to put it down. Hazel was a founding member of the Historic Roses Group of the


In my garden I grow two roses that Hazel introduced onto general nursery lists and I am wanting

to grow the Rugosa that Hazel raised, ‘Corylus’, the latin word for Hazel. Corylus is a cross

between R. nitida and R. rugosa ‘ Typica’ and was included in Peter Beales 1988 catalogue as

‘Corylus’, previously labelled as ’N R’. I have found a garden in Western Australia where Corylus is growing in a Rugosa collection.


There are two roses growing at my home that remind of Hazel, 'Tipsy Imperial Concubine' and "Park's Yellow"


'Tipsy Imperial Concubine'

‘Tipsy Imperial Concubine’ was discovered by Hazel and is believed to be an old Chinese garden

variety, introduced by Peter Beales 1982. The rose was brought to the United Kingdom by Professor

Ye Junjian as part exchange of rose varieties between China and England. The real concubine’s

name was Yang Guifei. The Emperor of the day was besotted with his young concubine and

imported wine from Persia for her enjoyment. Others in the Court whispered her name as ‘the

tipsy concubine’.



"Park's Yellow"

General consensus is that it is unlikely to be the original R. x odorata ochroleuca and this was also introduced into commerce by Peter Beales in England. Hazel and Peter worked closely together in regards old rose introduction. I do love this rose; it is a huge almost thornless climber with blooms of great beauty and a fragrance to match. Sometimes roses are saved that may be misnamed - this misnaming does not trouble me as it is far more important to grow these roses for their beauty than to know the name that is possibly lost in time.


Here is the letter from Hazel (sans page 2). Click on the first image to enlarge the whole gallery to read it.




I met Hazel in 1997 at one of the best International Heritage Roses Conferences imaginable, held in Cambridge England, and was the 7th Conference.


Sometimes in life if you are lucky enough

true magic happens, and this was one such time. It was not over organised and registration had a chaotic feel. This lead to a chance meeting in the powder room with Hazel, and she found Jenny and I grumbling about the overly late start.


Formidable Hazel let us know that "it is not a World Bank meeting but is a meeting for beautiful roses". Point taken, and the conference went on to amaze us as did Hazel’s old rose lecture.

( Hazel Le Rougetel 1917 - 2010 )




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