Edit: These photos were taken on 6/15/11 – ‘Rosa Mundi’ is in bloom!
To understand the next rose on my wish-list, we have to go to France to the 13th century, (and perhaps even further to Greek and Roman times) and introduce ourselves to the “Gallic” or “French Rose.” Native to southern and central Europe, Rosa gallica (meaning, “of-Gaul”) bears single petaled, deep pink, fragrant blooms on a mounding, hardy plant. It spawned a cultivar with a few extra petals which was known as Rosa officinalis, or the ‘Provins Rose’ named for the town outside of Paris where, for the past 800 or so years, it has been used for commercial purposes. R. officinalis has a more common name, ‘The Apothecary’s Rose’ as “officinalis” indicates it’s use for pharmaceutical purposes.
Let’s now cross The Channel: If you’re familiar with early British history, then surely you know about the Houses of Lancaster and York, and their emblems of a red and white rose, respectively. It was the Apothecary Rose that the House of Lancaster chose in the 13th century as their royal badge (and which was later integrated with the white rose of York into the ubiquitous red and white Tudor Rose).
‘Rosa Mundi’, or Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’, is a sport of ‘The Apothecary Rose’, dating as early as the 16th century! Also known as “Fair Rosamund’s Rose” (named undoubtedly for Eleanor of Aquitaine’s rival, Henry II’s lover, Rosamund Clifford), it bears striking, candy-striped, semi-full red and white petals on a medium shrub with a spicy scent, and it is the object of my desire. ‘Rosa Mundi‘ is available from David Austin, USA: $17.95