I was fortunate to find this rose in the garden when we moved here 25 years ago but unfortunate in that it lost out to some building works a few years later. It had been acquired by the previous owner at an IGPS plant sale in the 1980s when such specialties occasionally became available and, if you were very lucky, you were allowed to buy one.

At the start of the 20th century Lord and Lady Ardilaun lived at St Anne’s in Clontarf and the rose was found here by her head gardener as a sport of Rosa ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’. As so often, we are dependent on the publications of Dr Charles Nelson for the back story. It seems that Lady Ardilaun was very possessive of her rose and gave cuttings to just a few trusted friends who had to promise not to pass it on. One of the friends was Phylis Moore, the wife of Sir Frederick Moore of the National Botanic Gardens, who cherished it for decades before giving it to the noted rosarian, Graham Stuart Thomas, then working at Hilling’s Nursery in England, who propagated it and made it available.

It is an excellent shrub rose with an exceptionally long flowering period and exquisite semi-double shell-pink blooms, darker in bud, which open to give a flat flower with a gentle fragrance. If you can’t find it locally, it is listed online as being available from at least two well-known rose suppliers. I think it’s time she made a return to my garden.

(As appeared in Newsletter 150, September 2020).

(Text courtesy of Maeve Bell and photos courtesy of Peter Beales Roses)