Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Felicite Parmentier - My Favorite Alba Rose
Alba roses are among my favorite Old Garden Roses - They are very winter hardy, have good disease resistance and very fragrant rose flowers. It is hard to choose just one, but if I had to, I would choose the Alba Rose Félicité Parmentier, and not Köenigin Von Dänemark - Queen of Denmark - even though I am a Dane living in Denmark. Félicité Parmentier was bred in Belgium before 1836, by Louis-Joseph-Ghislain Parmentier. Félicité Parmentier is smaller than many other Alba Roses - rarely grows more than 4-5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and have a more upright growth habit than the bigger more lax growing Alba roses. It grows and flowers well even in a fairly shaded position with only 3-4 hours of direct sunlight. Alba roses tolerate more shade than other groups of roses, but they still need direct sunlight to produce flowers. Like many other old garden roses it takes the plant about 4 years to form a nice little rose bush that flowers more and more each year. The first years it is best to prune it lightly and then cut the canes and laterals down by a third, after it has flowered. Shape the bush pruning it lightly in the spring - if you have more room you do not have to prune it at all, it will become more arching and wide. Only take out some of the older dead canes if needed.
It is the flowers of Félicité Parmentier that makes it my favorite Alba rose. In spite of the name Alba - meaning white, the flowers are not really white.
The buds have a yellow green colour and when they develop, we first see a little circular opening showing pink petals. As the flower develop it opens into blush pink rosette shaped flowers, that reflexes into a dome shaped or pompom shaped flower that fades to white.
The flowers are very strongly scented - not that the scent "carry on air" but when smelling the individual flowers they have a very strong sharp spicy rose scent that is wonderful. I often pick a newly opened flower of Félicité Parmentier and smell it and put it in my shirt pocket - during the day I many times smell the little rose flower - one of the best ways to get aroma-therapy! Even the glands on the sepals exude a spicy fragrant resin. The flowers are fairly small only about 1,5 - 2 inches/ 3-5 cm across.
Félicité Parmentier flowers for about 4-6 weeks here and if they promise rain I often cut a nice little bouquet, because like most roses with many thin petals they do not like rain much, which makes them unsightly.