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Malmaison (in Josephine's day)
'Malmaison (in Josephine's day)'  photo
Photo courtesy of Johno
Historical reference rose garden   Listing last updated on 18 Jun 2024.
In his article, Gallica Hybrids in France: 1804 to 1848, Francois Joyaux says: At the Chateau La Malmaison, [Josephine] built up the first great collection of roses, in the years between 1804 and 1814. Her collection eventually comprised about 250 species and varieties, of which 167 were Gallicas... The Empress particularly favoured two rose growers who were considerably involved in the development of Gallicas. They were Dupont and Descemet.

[From The First Gallicas Raised in France: 1804-1815, by Francois Joyaux, p. 2:] Of the Empress's collection, absolutely nothing is known. When, on her death in 1814, an inventory was made of all her plants, her collection of roses was not included; or perhaps the inventory has since been lost.

[From The Book of the Rose, by David Squire, p. 16:] After Josephine's death in 1814, the gardens were neglected and in 1828, eventually sold by auction, together with the palace. About 1896 Daniel Osiris bought the gardens, had them restored and in 1904 gave them to the French government.

[From The Rose Garden, by William Paul, pp. 15-16:] The patronage of the Empress gave an impetus to Rose culture. Establishments were soon formed solely for the purpose, among the earliest of which were those of M. Descemet and M. Vibert [For more information about both gentlemen, see "Breeders".], and the taste spread throughout Europe. It has been said that the collection of the former at St Denis was destroyed by the English troops in 1815, but I believe they were sold to M. Vibert and removed to Chenevieres-sur-Marne on the approach of the allied troops.

[From Rose Gardens: Their History and Design, by Fearnley-Whittingstall, pp. 24-8:] In 1799 Josephine Bonaparte bought the Chateau of Malmaison near Choisy with its estate of 650 acres. Josephine was, so far as we can tell, the first rose enthusiast to make a collection of roses and set them apart in a garden of their own. Today only five hectares of the garden and mere fragments of the original planting remain. After her divorce in 1810, Josephine lived there until her death on May 29, 1814. Her aim was to assemble every known variety of rose. The Empress had a close rival in the collecting of rare plants and roses in the Comtesse de Bougainville. Among Josephine's sources were an Englishman, Mr Kennedy of the partnership of Kennedy and Lee, nurserymen trading at Hammersmith, who joined forces in the world-wide search for roses with M Andre du Pont, the director of the Jardins de Luxembourg in Paris where he established another famous collection of roses. The rose breeder Eugene Hardy, who was du Pont's successor at the Jardins de Luxembourg, also served Malmaison well.

[Ibid, pp. 30-1:] Pierre-Joseph Redoute made coloured drawings of 117 of the rose varieties at Malmaison. Redoute was a botanist as well as an artist, which partly accounts for the accuracy of his drawings. He and Thory, the distinguished botanist who wrote the text describing the roses in Redoute's book, started breeding experiments with 'Slater's Crimson China' in 1798, soon after the rose arrived in France... no traces of the original roseraie survive. Two drawings exist of the gardens dated 1806 and 1815; the latter, made after the death of Josephine for Prince Eugene, shows a formal layout in the pattern of the Union Jack -- this was the design chosen in 1983 for a project to restore the Empress' roses to Malmaison. To date, 110 varieties have been located and 800 bushes planted to represent them. Josephine grew 167 Gallica roses, 27 Centifolias, 22 Chinas, 9 Damasks, 8 Albas, 4 Spinosissimas, 3 luteas, R. moschata, R. carolina, and R. setigera.

[From Landscaping with Antique Roses, by Liz Druitt and Michael Shoup, p. 105:] Josephine's delight in collecting roses was a direct stimulus to French hybridizers to create as many new varieties as possible, and their work set the pace for European nurserymen throughout most of the 19th century.

[From The Rose Garden, by William Paul, pp. 15-16:] At the commencement of the last century, the Empress Josephine acknowledged [the Rose] as her favourite flowers, and caused varieties to be collected throughout Europe and brought to her garden at Malmaison... The patronage of the Empress gave an impetus to Rose culture. Establishments were soon formed solely for the purpose, among the earliest of which were those of M. Descemet and M. Vibert...

[From The Old Rose Advisor, by Brent C. Dickerson, p. 102:] "Malmaison" was the palace to which the Empress Josephine retired after her divorce from Napoleon. On the grounds, she created the world's most complete collection of roses, unsurpassed until the advent of Sangerhausen and L'Hay two or three generations later. The collection was evidently dispersed shortly after her death in 1814, with the first attempts at reconstitution not taking place until circa 1900...

[From The Old Rose Adventurer, by Brent C. Dickerson, p. 199: Vibert wrote: Jos├ęphine] brought together at Malmaison one of the richest collections of plants and shrub... she took great pains, here and in other countries, to seek out whatever was rare. Roses were especially favored by her; she honored Monsieur Dupont with particular good will, and didn't think it beneath her to join him in their undertakings. The impetus that she gave to Horticulture was sooner felt where she lived; and it is really from that time that the importance of the discoveries in this genus dates, as well as the improvment of the methodology and the increase in the number of fanciers...

[From Roll Call: The Old Rose Breeder, p. 190:] Giraud d'Haussy, "called LAROSE"... [F]ormer gardener at Malmaison under Enpress Jos├ęphine.

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