Suggestion: Name a new rose after poet

I cannot imagine a renowned writer more deserving of the honor. Emily Dickinson, the great American poet, was passionate about flowers, especially roses, from childhood. Her botanical knowledge would probably equate to that of a college graduate botany major. She devoted a great deal of time and love to her own herbarium and to pressing specimens of her favorites. A shy recluse, she used flowers, often accompanied by a poem, to communicate her feelings and maintain friendships. Some blossoms were so beloved by her that she more or less anthropomorphized them, mourning when she found a dear one “beheaded” by the frost, for example. A quick search on the internet will turn up many of her flower and rose poems. If anyone wants me to prepare a complete text of all of her flower or rose poems, I am willing. This great writer revered roses and should definitely have one named in her honor. Thanks, Carol Woodson (A devoted, grateful reader of Emily Dickinson who is in awe of beautiful flowers)

Ive always felt that the rose chooses its name, not vice versa. So, if one is reminiscent of her, then I think it would be appropriate to marry the two.

Wouldn’t there be a problem getting permission from her estate to do this? When you name a rose for someone, you must get written permission from the executor or the estate. Who would you ask??

After an estate closes, there is no executor.

Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 and died in 1886. She published a mere handful of her 1700-plus poems during her lifetime, all anonymously. She is often referred to as the greatest woman poet or the greatest American poet. I myself consider her to be the second greatest poet, after Shakespeare. There is an Emily Dickinson museum in the beautiful Victorian mansion, an official historic site, where she lived in Amherst MA. The Emily Dickinson International Society, which meets annually and publishes an E. Dickinson Bulletin and journal, has many hundreds of members around the world. Her birth and death are officially celebrated in Amherst, with meetings and readings and visits to the museum and cemetery. There is an official website and many other unofficial websites for her. A facimile edition of her pressed flowers has been published, “Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium.” In addition, there are volumes devoted to her gardens. There are audio editions of her poetry and her hundreds of letters have been collected and published as well. Almost always, a flower, bouquet, pressed, single blossom, accompanied her letters. Her writing tone becomes rather giddy each year as spring approaches and she anticipates the reawakening of the earth and growing things. She wrote many semi-erotic poems about the bee and the rose. And there are poems in which she assumes the persona of a rose. She was a very complex, incredible genius. There is a great deal of scholarly writing about her, many biographies, yet she remains elusive due to her shy, secretive way of life. When I discovered that new varieties of the most beautiful flower of all, the rose, are often named after famous people, I was amazed that I could find no Emily Dickinson rose. Perhaps there is one that I haven’t found, but so far, nothing has turned up. I do not know of another writer of her stature who so valued flowers. I could, if anyone is intested, come up with the approx. percentage of her poetry that mentions roses and/or other flowers and uses flowers as a way to achieve a deeper meaning.


If there WAS an ‘Emily Dickinson’ rose, it would be in the Rose database at the URL below, but there does not appear to ever have been such a rose.


Thank you, Paul!!! As for her (non-existent) estate, the folks who run the Emily Dickinson Museum as well as the members of the Emily Dickinson International Society would be ecstatic, I’m sure, to have a rose named after their favorite poet. It would be such a fitting tribute to an original American genius, a great writer who adored roses and flowers almost to excess. They were like friends to her. I guess the reason it hasn’t come up before is that Dickinson scholars aren’t familiar with hybridizing roses. Neither am I, but when I ordered my bare roots from Heritage Roses in Oregon, I discovered the named varieties and became intrigued. Apparently, rose hybridizers are also not familiar with Emily Dickinson. I think the time has come for these two groups to get acquainted! Carol

Well if you do need permission to name a rose after her then someone in the society or at her museum would probably know.

Hi, again,

Minor correction: Today I was getting ready to order some more roses and so realized that the place I order from in OR is called “Heirloom” not “Heritage” roses. And I should be saying, “own root” I guess. I’m a very late-blooming gardener–never had a chance before–and I’ve discovered I love it but lacking in basic knowledge.

Jim Sproul asked what kind of rose might be appropriate for Emily Dickinson. The following is my reply, in case anyone else might be interested in finding an appropriate new rose to name for her.

Hi, again, Jim,

Getting back to you on naming a rose for the great American poet Emily Dickinson, I found the book Emily Dickinson

Nobody Knows This Little Rose

by Emily Dickinson

Nobody knows this little Rose-

It might a pilgrim be

Did I not take it from the ways

And lift it up to thee.

Only a Bee will miss it-

Only a Butterfly,

Hastening from far journey-

On its breast to lie-

Only a Bird will wonder-

Only a Breeze will sigh-

Ah Little Rose-how easy

For such as thee to die!

Just got this email from the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA. ( The NY Botanical Garden has an exhibition now titled Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers. Thought I’d share this as it shows again this great American poet’s importance in the botanical world. Hope eventually someone will name a rose for her; she deserves it. Read on:

"Join the Emily Dickinson Museum on a Bus Trip to the New York Botanical Garden on Tuesday, May 11. We will be visiting the garden’s new exhibition Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers. The daylong excursion includes round-trip transportation between Amherst and the New York Botanical Garden, a guided tour of the exhibit, and free time to explore the garden on your own.

The exhibition runs from May 1 to June 13 and will include an interpretation of Dickinson’s own mid-19th century flower garden in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Space is limited. The cost is $55 per person if reservations are made before May 1; $65 per person on or after May 1. To reserve a place, or for more information, contact Nan Fischlein, program coordinator, at or 413-542-2034.

Visit the New York Botanical Garden’s website at for more information about the exhibition"

It would have to be a hardy rose to live in Amherst. That eliminates a very substantial proportion of modern roses. It shouldn’t be in modern colors but rather in the traditional, old-fashioned colors and should have old-fashioned form.

She was known as, “the woman in white”. It seems an old fashioned looking white rose would be most appropriate.

I have a lovely one I’m not planning on doing anything with but disease resistance and hardiness are questionable.

I think it would be wonderful to name a rose for her. As Carol mentioned, she seemed to wish to be a rose in several of her poems. She did often wear white late in life, but I don’t recall anything in her poetry that suggests that she liked white flowers. The colors she mentions most often are purple and red. The little purple gentian in this poem is a representation of herself:

God made a little gentian;

It tried to be a rose

And failed, and all the summer laughed.

But just before the snows

There came a purple creature

That ravished all the hill;

And summer hid her forehead,

And mockery was still.

The frosts were her condition;

The Tyrian would not come

Until the North evoked it.

“Creator! shall I bloom?”

I think she would have liked a purple polyantha along the lines of ‘Baby Faurax’ or ‘Mr. Bluebird’. Whatever kind of rose it is, it will need to be cold hardy to survive in Amherst (zone 5a).

“grateful for the roses in life’s diverse bouquet” (Emily Dickinson)

I’ve got several new purple ones coming along that would do nicely. Of course they would need to be tested.

Our local Sunday paper carried a nice piece about the New York Botanical Garden and the Enid Haupt Conservatory there which is decorated to re-create a 19th century New England flower garden and Dickinson’s home in Amherst, Mass.

The Edenic estate in the Bronx has mounted an exhibition called “The Poetry of Flowers”. It focuses on the 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson, whose verse and letters described blossoms of all kinds and who was better known, when she lived, as a gardener than as a poet.

It’s a wide-ranging, indoor and outdoor spring-time show, incorporating a breathtaking display of flowering plants in the Enid Haupt conservatory, a collection of 60 Dickinson-related artifiacts in a gallery and dozens of outdoor stations that highlight her poems in the midst of the flowers she celebrated.

The flower garden installed in the giant glass conservatory is designed to resemble the grounds of Dickinson’s home in Amherst, Mass., by including the flowers she favored, based on her poems and letters.

Dickinson gave up wearing any color but white when she was in her 30s, as she began to withdraw from society. She also took on some other odd behaviors, including gardening at night.

Thanks, Meg, for sharing this and for your interest in my “project” to get someone to name a rose for ED. Wish I could see the exhibit; sounds ravishingly beautiful. I posted about this exhibit myself on Mar 22 2010. Still hoping the right rose will come along for Emily Dickinson. I think she would have liked this kind of memorial better than any other.I’m not a hybridizer; in fact, I’m just a late-blooming gardener (I write children’s poetry) so I’m trying to encourage someone who is.,

Spring is here! Tra-la,

Carol Woodson (Seattle)

PS very off topic, but you can hear one of my own poems for children at:

Site is free and story or poem with the most “hits” during month of May wins $1500.00!

It’s me again, still on my mission to have one of you nice rose hybridizers name a new species after my favorite poet Emily Dickinson, the 19th Century recluse, now recognized as one of the greatest poets of all time. Here is part of a rose poem which Dickinson enclosed in a letter to her cousin Eudocia:

All the letters I can write

Are not fair as this–

Syllables of Velvet–

Sentences of Plush,

Depths of Ruby, undrained,

Hid, Lip, for Thee–

“In this lyric the ruby-colored rose, soft as velvet, is fairer than language. Indeed, its petals are words and the curling formns it makes conjure sentences…Dickinson is writing of what botanists call a ‘Deep Cup’ rose meant to be put to the lips(even as words or kisses issue from the lips).” (Judith Farr, professor emerita Georgetown Univ and author of The Gardens of Emily Dickinson, in the Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin May/June 2010 p. 7.)

And, as I mentioned once before, The New York Botanical Garden recently mounted Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers. Farr writes that “It is a beautiful and uncommon tribute to one of the most beloved of United States poets and indeed, one of the greatest poets writing in the English language.”

I hope you agree that this great American poet, who adored flowers from childhood and wrote hundreds of poems about them, who had her own greenhouse and collected flowers in her herbarium (facimile has been published), and who also had considerable botanical knowledge, deserves the honor of a rose in her name.

Hi Carol, I spoke to a friend of mine in upstate NY about your project. He said you aren’t all that far away from him.

I have a number of roses being tested there now. If you’d like I can put you in touch.

There might be one amongst those being grown back there you could choose as a tribute.