08 May, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

For Edith, Muriel and Mathilde


The Pernet-Ducher rose was Edith Rockefeller McCormicks' favorite flower. It has it's origins in Lyon France, where the house of Pernet existed for generations.

It was Joseph Pernet (born in 1859, the son of a breeder) who had the passion for horticulture within his blood. It was he who took the name `Pernet-Ducher' upon his marriage to Marie Ducher, also the child of of rose-breeders, in 1882; and a veritable rose breeding dynasty was begun.

Joseph felt that the roses grown around 1880-1885 lacked élan in their coloring. Additionally, the search for a "yellow rose" had become something of a "Holy Grail" for rose breeders. Impressed by the color of the Austrian Briar, he set about introducing (transferring) it into his garden roses. That was the origin of the magnificent strain of roses which has made his glory and which, as a just homage to his skill as creator, bears the name, Pernetiana.

He would win the Gold Medal (symbol of the finest rose in Europe) in the Concours international de roses nouvelles de Bagatelle thirteen times, from 1907 to 1925. It is in these results that we can credit almost all yellow-rose breeds today.

Joseph, the "Wizard of Lyon" Pernet-Duchet would die in 1928. His life, like Edith's, would be touched by tragedy when he too would lose two children. (Both sons would be killed in World War I.) With this loss the Pernet-Duchet dynasty would have no heirs, although their memory lives on in the exuberant roses that their heart-broken father dedicated to them: Souvenir de Claudius Pernet, and Souvenir de Georges Pernet.

I've always wondered if Edith knew background of the Pernet-Duchet family. Regardless, the legacy continues with the flowers, as these roses are still commercially available today. It's a fitting tribute, one that I think merits re-telling as we all give acknowledgment to our mothers today.

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