THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Sunday, March 5, 1995 TAG: 9503030058 SECTION: HOME PAGE: G1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY ROBERT STIFFLER, GARDENING COLUMNIST LENGTH: Long : 113 lines
Fifty years have passed since Peace was introduced to this country, and Peace - in the form of a rose - continues to take root around the world.
More than 50 million of the creamy yellow roses with pink-tinged petals have been sold in the United States, and more than double that number worldwide, says R.J. Hutton, chairman of Conard-Pyle Co., the Pennsylvania-based nursery that introduced the Peace rose to this country in 1945 near the conclusion of World War II.
One Japanese garden has a centerpiece of 2,000 Peace roses. Another, in Beirut, Lebanon, maintains 1,000 Peace roses, Hutton notes.
``If I could have only one rose in my garden, Peace would be it,'' says Norfolk resident and rosarian Charles Turnbull. ``It makes the most spectacular show in any garden, with its huge blooms. It towers above everything else.
``No other rose in the world has the size, stems and foliage as good as Peace.'' Turnbull is the longest-term member of the Tidewater Rose Society, affiliated with the American Rose Society, and has been a consistent winner of high honors in rose shows, often with Peace.
The Peace rose is symbolic of the hopes of the nation at the time the rose was introduced during World War II. The following account of the rose's history was compiled based on the June 1971 British edition of Reader's Digest and the March 24, 1964, issue of The Charlotte Observer newspaper, along with assistance from Hutton and the Conard-Pyle Co.
The year was 1939 and Alain Meilland was breeding thousands of new roses in acres of private greenhouses in the heart of France's sun-drenched Cap d'Antibes area, where the Meilland family still raises roses.
Of the thousands of crossbreeds, rose No. 3-35-40 looked very special. Its petals were a golden color, edged with delicate pink. The blossom was enormous - 6 to 8 inches across, nearly half again as wide as any other known rose. The rose gave 25 or more blooms per year, compared to 12 to 18 for the average rose. And it was almost miraculously resistant to weather, blight and insects.
Rose growers across Europe liked 3-35-40 too and asked for, and received, budded grafting stock. But a few weeks later, World War II broke out and the international rose market was abruptly halted.
Robert Pyle, the U.S. consul in Lyons, France, was a rose fancier and friend of Meilland. He left for the United States in June 1940 and took a few 3-35-40 grafting stems hidden away in his diplomatic luggage. Then the United States entered the war, and trans-Atlantic communications ended.
On Sept. 3 that year, communications with Germany ceased. After the German invasion of France in June 1940, there were no further communications with Italy. Not until years later did Meilland learn that the Germans named his rose ``Gloria Dei'' (to praise God) and the Italians named it ``Giola'' (to face life with a smile).
Meilland, with Nazi troopers beating through his greenhouses, named rose 35-5-40 Mme. A. Meilland, in memory of his mother. It still bears that name in France.
But the Meillands had no inkling of what had happened to rose No. 3-35-40 in the United States.
In September 1945, Meilland received a letter from Robert Pyle reporting that 3-35-40 had been an incredible success in this country. It had won numerous prizes plus an honor never before given a rose - a specially minted gold medal from the American Rose Society.
Pyle and Sidney B. Hutton Sr., president of Conard-Pyle, had sent budwood to other U.S. nurserymen for testing and appraisal. The response was the most enthusiastic ever received for a new rose, Sidney Hutton said at the time.
Late in 1944, Pyle and others picked the name Peace for the rose, from hundreds submitted in a contest. Plans were made to introduce it to U.S. gardeners in the fall of 1945. Pyle told Meilland that he had patented the rose for the Meillands in the United States. Even better, sales had been enormous.
The American Rose Society set April 29, 1945, as the date for a formal introduction of the Peace rose in Pasadena, Calif. Nobody knew that the date would prove to be one of the many extraordinary coincidences associated with the Peace rose and World War II. Berlin fell just as actress Jinx Falkenburg was christening the rose in Pasadena.
Shortly after, a meeting of representatives from 49 countries took place in San Francisco to form the United Nations. Each delegate was sent a vase with a single Peace rose accompanied by this note from Dr. Ray C. Allen of the American Rose Society: ``This is the Peace rose which was christened on the day Berlin fell. We hope the Peace rose will influence men's thoughts for everlasting world peace.''
Fame had arrived to this rose, which had been spirited to America from a burning Europe.
The Peace rose since has been used as a parent for many new and modern roses, including Chicago Peace, Confidence, Grace De Monaco, Monte Carlo, Tahiti and more than two dozen others sold around the world.
In this 50th anniversary year, All America Rose Selections is planting and donating a special Peace Garden at the site of the original U.N. Conference in San Francisco.
No rose, before or since, has had such a triumphant success. And no rose is as good for American gardeners as Peace. Patents expired many years ago, and commercial growers quit producing Peace because newer varieties brought them more income. But gardeners still demanded Peace, so today it can be found in most garden outlets.
You can't do better than Peace. Although the world is still troubled with wars, the Peace rose continues to spread its beauty and serenity worldwide. Now is the ideal time for planting Peace in your garden. ILLUSTRATION: Color photos
The Peace rose blossoms are 6 to 8 inches across, and a bush yields
25 or more blooms a year.
MARTIN SMITH-RODDEN/Staff photo
Charles Turnbull grows Peace roses in his Norfolk garden.