Friday, December 16, 2011

‘General Gallieni’

I haven’t written much about ‘General Gallieni’ because, well, he’s been really, really slow to become himself. ‘General Gallieni’ is a Tea rose bred in 1899 in France. He was planted in my garden in May of 2009 and still isn’t much to look at. He took forever to get up off the ground. I think it was this last spring that I moved him a few feet over. I have suspicions about the spot he was growing in. Nothing seems to thrive in it. Now he is about four feet tall and fairly vase shaped. For a two-and-a-half-year old tea rose that’s rather diminutive, at least in Florida. I can’t say whether this is typical of the rose or peculiar only to my garden.


This evening after work I dashed out at 5:45 with flashlight in hand and noticed these striking flowers, and then I noticed more of them. The General is actually having a flush – his first! It was starting to drizzle, and the weather report mentioned 36 degrees at some point, so I decided to snap a few off.


These are the most difficult flowers to photograph, even more so in the outside light. In the summer they look exactly like stained glass and are gorgeous, but the light must glare off the General’s petals because they simply can not be captured - not by me anyway.


The substance, that is, the thickness of the ‘General Gallieni’ petals is unlike any other rose in my garden. Maybe Hybrid Teas have thick petals, but I’m not used to Teas and Polyanthas having petals this thick – at least I don’t think I am. I’ve learned that thick-petaled flowers are not fragrant flowers, and so GG is not noticeably fragrant beyond a sort of clean smell. Another characteristic of the petals is that they seem translucent. The stained glass likeness is really remarkable.


According to the authors of Tea Roses: Old Roses for Warm Gardens, 'General Gallieni' may be “dark red, pink or yellow or come in combinations of these colours…the total range includes near black, purple, maroon, poppy and brick red, coppery pink, buff, orange, lemon, gold and chrome-yellow.” Whew! All in one flower!


The flower shape of ‘General Gallieni’ is something else altogether. How often do you hear of a beautiful rose having petals that are “bunched together in irregular clumps”? Again, the Australian writers of Tea Roses state that in ”one flower, the petals can be rounded, pointed, spoon-shaped (even to the handle) or sharply folded lengthwise, producing flowers that can be tufted, muddled and shaggy.”


They quote Mr. E. E. Pescott’s comments in 1928, “The blooms are very irregular and misshapen, but, somehow, the rose, the bush, the unusual shades of the flowers, always seem to appeal to the fair sex. I have known many ladies say that they must have a bush of that rose in their garden.”


Well, I sort of like being referred to as the fair sex, and I’m definitely one of the ladies that wants this rose in her garden. I have a thing for red and yellow roses and for yellow and red roses. I miss ‘Rosette Delizy’ who happens to be the General’s offspring. Oh, and then there’s ‘Leonie Lamesch’ who splashes the garden with these same colors.


Some rosarians must have fragrance in a rose for it to grow in their garden. I on the other hand am captivated by the pretty face, the striking color, the fat flower. I often don’t even remember to try a sniff anymore. These flowers are so unique and lustrous that fragrance doesn’t seem to matter much.


Speaking of fragrance, I just dipped my nose into one, and there is a scent but not the usual one. So I looked back at the Tea Roses book. Here’s what it says, “Their fragrance is a dry Tea, with carnation  and ‘disinfectant’ undertones.” I’d go along with that.


A rose with individuality is just up my alley. ‘General Gallieni’ will be staying in my garden, and I’ll be paying him better attention, watching for him to become the vigorous rose that the Australian ladies wrote about, “strong in colour, rough-hewn in shape and worthy to be named after a military man.”



  1. Wow, what an unusual rose ! I would love to have her in my garden. Beautiful, Shelly ! I liked very much your presentation, thank you.
    Have a nice weekend, my dear !

  2. I really like it. Very different but I love the way the colors work together.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  3. Wow, that is one beautiful rose and what a treat on this dreary, wet morning. I've never seen this rose. It must be such a delight to have all the beauty in these flowers growing in your gardens. You have a wonderful collection of roses.

    Have a wonderful weekend and a great Christmas week.


  4. Mmmm, that is one handsome general, I'd say! I can't wait to see what other colors the different seasons bring. Thanks for this very informative post!

    Enjoy the day!

  5. Sherry, nice post about ‘General Gallieni’! You captured the blooms in a lovely way. They truly are unique in color and even more in shape. Have a nice weekend!

  6. Shelly, just beautiful. I love those colors too, reminds me of ripe yellow peaches.

    Would you want to post your best and a whole bush shot on HMF? There is only one whole shot and that's from the Botanic Gardens in Dunedin, NZ. You need to *REPRESENT Florida!!!*


  7. The General is gorgeous! Love the color combinations and the unusual petals...very unique. Wishing you a very merry Christmas...who knows maybe Santa will bring you a new rose bush. :-)

  8. What a fabulous range of rich colors that rose has. The form reminds me of a peony.

  9. Thank you for the wonderful pictures, I think you captured the beauty of this rose very well. I am glad it is beginning to do better for you, hopefully this spring it will be even more beautiful. But the fragrance of disinfectant? I don't know if I'd like that in a rose...

  10. Sherry, these are hands-down THE most beautiful pictures I've EVER seen of General Gallieni. Every one of them is poetry. I'm just overwhelmed at the beautiful swirls of colors and petals. This will leave a lasting impression on me.

  11. I am planting one today. Hopefully General Gallieni will have a jolly dance together with Jean Ducher, Marie Van Houtte and the lovely Rosette Delizy.