Sometimes I wonder what people were thinking when they spilled words onto paper, then sent them off to be published as though none of it matters.
I refer to Bertram Park’s book, ‘The World of Roses’ (1962). Among other nonsense, he has ‘La Rose à Quatres Saisons’, bred in the 19th century, identified as Rosa bifera. Not! And he argued that the Rosa centifolia of Pliny the Elder could only be the same plant known by that name today. Never mind that writers of the 16th and 17th centuries distinguished the Great Dutch rose as ‘Hollandica’ and ‘Bativica’.
He wrote, “Could the Dutch have had some fore-knowledge of artificial hybridization? It is possible, though very improbable (because the Cabbage Rose was practically sterile in its later development).” Apparently he was unaware of what the Dutch were accomplishing in the vegetable gardens around the same time.
I don’t know what to say about his notion that Romans and Phoenicians were carried Rosa rubra to Europe a little after R. centifolia. Funny. I thought Rome was in Europe.
BTW: I ordered a copy of the book because it has lots of color pictures that might be useful.
Then there is an article I’ve had on my web page for a long while: ‘Tea-Scented Roses A Survey’ by Arthur Wyatt. It contains some valuable information, including a note on John Kennedy’s trips to France to deliver roses to Empress Josephine in 1803 and 1811. This was part of his implication that the English were doing all the rose collecting, then passing them along to the French and other peoples.
"In those days, when it took almost as many weeks as it now takes in flying hours to reach England from the Far East, it was often the practice to off-load plants in transit from China to England at the Calcutta Botanic Garden as a half-way house for recovery during the long voyage. This practice led the French horticulturists to assume that the plants had actually originated in India and not China. It also confused some English botanists, too, so that to this day, the class of roses which we term the Chinas are referred to in France and Germany as ‘Bengales’, while the whole botanical Section which includes the Chinas, Tea-scented and Hybrid Teas was given the name INDICAE. "
We may disagree about the source of confusion. Regarding the source of the Tea-scented rose received by the Humes, Wyatt claimed that it came from “the East India Company’s inspector of tea, John Reeves (1778-1856)”. Sadly, Wyatt neglected to check the dates. Reeves went to Canton in 1812, and could not have been involved with the shipment of roses in 1812. And, why was the “East India Company” headquartered in Canton, China?
Furthermore, I have found that the name Rosa bengalensis was used in France by Saint Germaine in 1784. He cited Jussieux as authority for the name, but I have not yet found an earlier source, or a description. I don’t know how this name could have been influenced by anything going on in England.
Then there is the fact that Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre sent a letter from Mauritius in 1769 regarding roses. He saw, “among others a small species from China, which flowers all year round.” And just two years earlier, Joseph-François Charpentier de Cossigny took a voyage to Bengale and sent to Mauritius a wide assortment of plants, including:
Idem, à fleurs doubles rouges.
Idem, à petites fleurs blanches, doubles, très-odorantes.
These brief descriptions are not enough for precise identifications, but if one of these was the one mentioned by Saint-Pierre, the name “Bengalensis” would be justified, at least temporarily.
And I suspect that when Kennedy returned from France, he took along some other goodies, perhaps some labeled as Bengalensis.
[Back in 1769, would French “rouges” more likely refer to the color of the Old Blush China, or to the Crimson China?]
Finally, I have been looking through an 1855 translation of Pliny the Elder’s list of roses. This is maddening. How can anyone identify Coroniola, the Rose of Autumn, as “Possibly a variety of the Eglantine, the Rosa canina or dog-rose”?