My 35-year hiatus from serious rose growing-passively growing a dozen or so bushes in the landscaping or none at all at times for many years–came to an end three years ago.

The travel (and travail) of work and serious illness took a heavy toll on time and opportunity. But then, in a time of recovery, I literally learned to read again by taking up the Heirloom Old Garden Roses catalogue and Modern Roses 10. Excitement set in and I ordered three dozen plants the first year. Then it was 300 more last year and now that many again for the coming season.

Combined Rose List 1997 reminded me of my importing days in the early ’60s: ‘Telstar’ and ‘Gay Vista’ from Gandy, ‘Ellinor LeGrice’ and ‘My Choice’ from Mr Edward LeGrice, more from Gaujard, Kordes, Lens, Cants, Cocker, Harkness, and Fryer. I grew 600 roses and 600 irises in my garden and another 6,000 in the municipal rose garden I started and planted in Muncie, Indiana.

Two years ago I decided to try importing again. My first plants arrived in late November 1997; 30+ from Guerinais in France and a similar number from Jensen in Germany. Jensen has a fabulous list with a lot of rarities-,old hybrid teas and climbers, and some interesting new things like the ‘Super’ climbers from Hetzel.

The Guerinais choice was prompted by a note in Combined Rose List that they specialize in roses by Michel Adam. I wrote for their list and Mr. Adam sent along four color photographs of his work. I was totally captivated. I ordered almost all of his creations, about 32 varieties in all. They also carry a limited list of maybe a dozen others generally available elsewhere.

And so more than 60 imported roses arrived. It was too cold to plant so they were heeled in for the winter. In spring they were potted and all were slow to break dormancy. The first visit from the Department of Agriculture inspector resulted in him seizing (and presumably destroying) six of the Adam roses as “dead.” I was not pleased but government inspectors do have complete authority over your imports for two growing seasons.

But the Adam varieties more than compensated for everv problem. His creations ranged from very good to extraordinary. Mr Adam told me I was the “premier” (first) grower of his varieties in America and the only one. My gamble allowed me a fabulously unique experience.

Of the entire group, eight hybrid teas are superb plants producing what, I think, will become some of the most popular new varieties for serious exhibitors. Three floribundas, two for exhibition and one for sheer glorious garden drama are in the group and there is one which sort of defies classification. Most all of Michel Adam’s varieties are highly fragrant.

Mv first experience with Adam’s introductions puts him in the front rank of modern hybridizers–some of these varieties equal those produced by greats such as Dr Walter Lammerts, Herb Swim, Ollie Weeks, Edward LeGrice, and our own Raleigh Rose Society member Astor Perry.

Here are some first-year observations and opinions about these beauties, roses I hope many of you will soon grow and enjoy:

Hybrid Teas

DETTY. The brightest, most vivid clean and pure orange I’ve ever seen. ‘Tropicana’ beside it looks drab and washed-out. 21-petalled high centered, perfectly spiral blooms open to five inches across. The plant reached 4-6 feet and was well-clothed in medium green foliage, never showing black spot or mildew. Indeed, none of the Adam varieties got any of these diseases although many of their nearby German neighbors-four feet away-did.

ROSE DE RENNES. A lavender and silvery pink hybrid tea with superb form-again with 21 petals. The outer petals were significantly lighter than the soft pastels of the inner petals. This one has a deep spicy fragrance and got up to 3 feet tall.

ADASOLSI. This variety is a radiant and luminous salmon-orange-pink with five-inch perfectly formed flowers. Top show quality variety but needs disbudding or it could be a spray entry. Its 28 petals are set off with chrome yellow bases. ‘ADAsolsi’ has a mild clove fragrance. Foliage is a medium matte green.

COMMANDANT COUSTEAU. Probably one of Adam’s best-known hybrid teas, it’s been in commerce in France since 1991 and is carried by eight European nurseries. In i993 ‘Commandant Cousteau’ was awarded the accolade of Plus Belle Rose de France, the most beautiful rose in France that year. This is one of the greatest of all rose awards, granted, I believe, on the basis of trials at both the Rosarie de I’Hay and Bagatelle gardens. ‘Commandant Cousteau’s perfection of form is without any peers excepting for those very best of yesterday and today such as ‘Joanna Hill,’ ‘First Prize’, and ‘Louise Estes’. The ‘Commandant,’ named for the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, is extremely fragrant. It is a 24-petalled medium red with some curiously pleasing orange-lustre highlights. The young foliage is a vivid red, aging to a lustrous dark green.

VILLE DE LIFFRE. The name means “town of Liffre” where Adam does his work at the GuerinaiS nursery. This very fragrant hybrid tea puts up 36-40″ canes crowned with perfect flowers colored very similarly to ‘Queen Elizabeth’. The young red foliage is so well spaced it looks as though every leaf was precisely micro-measured before being affixed to the canes. The dark and very glossy green mature foliage is the most beautiful of any plant in my garden. Blooms have 27 petals and average 6″ across.

PARFUM D’ARMOR. This is a huge 6-inch medium pink with a reverse of white shading to a light pearlescent pink. It has 79, yes 79, petals and looks like it could take on every other show rose in the world for substance and delight. Nice long canes come quickly on a four-foot plant. The name means “perfume of love” and its fragrance is so pleasantly strong you smell it from 6-to-10 feet away. This looks like a sure winner (!) in the garden, in the house, or on the show table.

ADESMANO. This excellent hybrid tea is a white/very light pink with a mid-pink thin-line edge. A hint of light cream enlivens the petals’ reverse. The five-inch blooms with 28 petals are produced on t-5-foot canes that are perfectly straight. ‘ADesmano’ needs disbudding and is extremely healthy and vigorous. It is a near-ringer for ‘Princesse de Monaco’. I regularly cut one of each over an eight week period, kept them side by side and observed them closely. ‘ADesmano’ would last 10 days; the ‘Princesse’ folded in 7-8 days. All around ‘ADesmano’ has it on its near-look-alike; it is larger, better formed and has a nice rose fragrance.

APOMAN. This peach yellow hybrid tea fades to a deep pink at the edge, in the way that the red invades the lavender of ‘Paradise.’ Sporting 21 petals, it is five-inches across of wonder-form. The plant is tall, well-clothed in dark green foliage; maroon when young. It throws either one-bloom stems or five-bloom candelabra stems-never any number in between! The fragrance, while slight, is pleasant and haunting. (Allergies have nearly ruined my smell sense, so in every case you may get more fragrance than I do.)

That makes for eight teeth-rattling, knock-your-socks-off WOW hybrid teas, all from one man in less than a decade of work. And that doesn’t account for many more than that which are “only very good.”

Floribundas

Now for the floribundas: three for the money, two to show, and one for sure to grow.

SANTIAGO (= Saint James, patron saint of Spain and brother of Jesus). This vivid medium red floribunda with loose flowers of 91 petals, some 3-4 inches across, in sprays of 3 to 10 blooms is a delight. The reverse of the petals is a very-much-lighter pink. I detected no fragrance but it was the major bee-draw in the garden, even more than asclepias and buddleia.

ADABAULU. This extremely fragrant floribunda is another bee favorite. The high-centered, spiral-formed buds (reminding me of the buds of ‘Little Darling’) are a light creamy pink with a yellow heart. It invariably throws flowers of 26 petals in nine-bloom sprays which are excellent when tight as well as when fully open. This will become the super floribunda for spray exhibition. The mid-size (3-foot) plant is decked out with very beautiful semi-glossy light green foliage.

MONTAUBAN DE BRETAGNE. This floribunda is one of those “whites” which are really red blends. Actually its a luscious concoction of pinks and whites. Not for exhibition but to put on a garden show quite remarkable. The outer petals are white rimmed with pink and red. The inner petals are white but get red down near the base of the inside petals. These delicate 10-petalled blooms come in sprays of 10 to 16; individual flowers reach three inches. The whole bush looks like a flock of butterflies has landed and completely covered the plant. The blooms have a spicy fragrance. The name ‘Montauban de Bretagne’ might not sell a lot of roses in the United States. I’d like to rename it “Dancing Butterflies”.

And the Rest

There’s one more of special merit and of an unusual nature:

ROSE DIANNECY. This is listed as a shrub/ground cover in CRL98. I found it to be something of a floribunda at times, a grandiflora at others, and sometimes even a hybrid tea. It is a pink of’The McCartney Rose’ shade and the fragrance is quite as good. ‘Rose d’Annecy’ comes with stack after stack after stack of star-reflexed petals forming a center of between one and three inches in height and two inches across measured from side to side, They are frequently produced in clusters of four on a sprawling plant. Those stacks of petals look like layer upon layer of crinolines for a doll’s ball gown. I’d be best satisfied if a compromise classification of grandiflora were assigned to it.

Other of Adam’s roses which need another year to properly evaluate are:

BELLE ANGLAISE, a medium yellow hybrid tea.
LA ROCHE AUX FEES, yellow edged pink floribunda.
ORANGE ADAM, a bright orange floribunda, comparable in color to ‘Detty’.
ADECOHUIT, an orange red, maybe floribunda, maybe hybrid tea.
HARMAN INERMIS, a deep pink thornless floribunda.
DAME DE L’ETOILE, creamy white, yellow heart floribunda.
PARFUM LIFFREEN, a light lavender, pink overtones, hybrid tea.
PETIT ORANGE, reddish orange, icy white reverse floribunda. Probably going to jump into the superb category.
ROSELINE DE KERSAINT, fuchsia rose grandiflora.
ROSE DE MONTFORT, medium red grandiflora.
YAKIMAN, pinkish lavender floribunda.
PETIT SAM, medium red, reverse light silvery pink floribunda.

There are another six to ten of Michel Adam’s roses I hope to import this season, some of which will replace ones the inspector “tuck away.”

Observations on the imports from Jensen in Germany will have to come later. I did get a great old dark red hybrid tea of 1929 called ‘Vater Rhein’, which I’ll put on show tables this year with some “reasonable expectations.”

The same is hoped for with ‘Vincenz Bergers Weisse’, a high-centered white hybrid tea from 1943. Both are of German origin and the white probably never made it over here because of World War II.

‘Soldier Boy,’ a medium red climber by my old correspondent, Mr LeGrice, looks good. And so does the very hardy climber known as ‘Morning Stars’, bred by Martin Jacobus and originally introduced by the long-gone New Jersey nursery of Bobbink & Atkins. This is a cross of a seedling of ‘New Dawn’ x ‘Autumn Bouquet’ crossed with a seedling bred from ‘New Dawn’ x ‘Inspiration’. Its inbred pedigree drew me to it and later I learned that Dr. Griffith Buck, another of my old friends from the ’60s, had used it in several of his cold-hardy roses. Both ‘Autumn Bouquet’, a medium pink shrub, and ‘Inspiration,’ a medium pink large-flowered climber, were bred out of ‘New Dawn’ pollinated by ‘Crimson Glory’. In theory, that gives ‘Morning Stars’ a 75% dose of ‘New Dawn’ genetic material with 25% of its genes coming from the Kordes’ classic red hybrid tea. I’m going to use ‘Morning Stars’ for the main core of my little hybridizing this summer. The bush is smaller than ‘New Dawn’-so far-but it has that cast-iron foliage. The flowers are an ‘Iceberg’ white.

Then after the coming summer I’ll have the 33 new-to-me old varieties just in from Martin Weingart of Germany. Some of them are so obscure they aren’t yet in MRIO or CRL. [ED. NOTE: All of Weingart’s offerings are recorded in CRL99.] One I’m particularly looking forward to is ‘Louis XIV’, a dark red China developed in 1859 by the son of the founder of the Guillot nursery, the still-same nursery producing the new Generosa series of roses. Among all these are roses with names like ‘Abraxas’ and ‘Oberburgermeister Boock.’ Doubt that will fit on an entry tag.

A couple of nursery folks may be evaluating some of the best of the Adam roses this summer. I hope you’ll hear about them but you can stop in to see them anytime you’re in the Raleigh- Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle area of North Carolina.

Y’all come.