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The Barbiers and their Roses

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Lloyd Chapman, Otaki New Zealand 2012

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All my adult life I have admired the roses produced by Barbier.
I have travelled to see them in the great rose gardens at L’Hay, Orleans and Sangerhausen and have grown them in four gardens.

Now I present what I have learned during a thirty year love affair……….

The Barbier Family

In France, it was the time of la belle époque, the beautiful era, a period of optimism and technical advancement. It was the time when the automobile, electric lighting and the telephone were becoming commonplace.
 Max Planck, Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr were initiating modern physics.
Champagne, art noveau,  and haute couture were all the rage in Paris.
In this era, the Barbier family of Orleans became a significant force in the world of gardening, notably for their amazing rambling roses.

It all began in 1845, with Albert Barbier, born in Olivet, a southern suburb of the city of Orleans  that sits on the Loire, 120km south-west of Paris.
Like his father, Albéric, Albert too was a gardener.
Albert joined the established plant nursery of Transon brothers & Dauvesse, and in his thirties he took over from Paul Transon, a name that we will encounter again.  It was a general nursery, growing not only roses, but fruit trees, ornamentals and shrubs. The nursery would continue to operate for a century.

In 1894, Albert formed Barbier and Company. He was 49, his brother Eugene,45 and Albert’s two sons René,25 and Léon, who was sixteen. Eventually their cousin Georges would join, and in due course nephews and grandsons would join the Barbier family business.
It is believed that the company was financed in part by Albéric Barbier’s brother-in-law, Casimir Moullé, whose name we will encounter later. He was a prosperous wine merchant in Bercy, with a strong attachment to Orleans.

In time the company would occupy over 170ha on five sites  (La Ferte Saint Aubin, Saint Denis en Val, Saint Cyr en Val, Orleans & Olivet) Their staff grew to 300 employees. Barbiers were one of the major employers in the region.
Albert Barbier went into public life. A republican during the empire, he was elected a councillor for the municipality of Olivet in 1881 and Mayor in 1896. In 1907 he was elected to the General Council, replacing Paul Transon. He remained with the Conseil Genéral for a quarter of a century, until his death in 1931. Albert was decorated with the Légion d’Honneur. It has been said that this combination of successful business and public life illustrates the vigour of family-based capitalism in France.

The business was at its peak before the Great War, their rambling roses taking the gardening world by storm. By the end of the war, orders had decreased, labour became difficult  and exporting became harder.  By this time Barbiers were exporting to the world. After the war, economic crises in 1929 and 1931 hurt production, and with Britain’s protectionist laws, the company’s production suffered further. Help google and blind readers
Albert died in 1931, and this signalled the end of rose introductions, the last rose being Paul Dauvesse in 1933, named in honour of the man who had mentored Albert. With pressures on land for housing, Barbier nurseries diminished, and the focus changed from hybridising to merely nursery production. The company closed in 1972.

This is Leon Barbier’s family with sons Roger & Marc, circa 1930

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The 1908 German catalogue

 The Barbier catalogue of 1908 was 254 pages in size. Roses occupied only 10% of the catalogue, with over 800 rose varieties, including 35 ‘new’ wichuraiana ramblers. Roses, however only contributed a quarter of the nursery’s production,

showing the nursery to be quite diverse. Help google and blind readers

Over seventy varieties of apples filled ten pages. There were also apricots, pears, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, currants, peaches, nectarines, plums, quinces, cherries, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, asparagus, rhubarb and ‘wild fruits’.

The packing department in Winter, 1907

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was the new wichuraiana ramblers that made Barbiers famous. In the decade before, the fashion-conscious rose world had been enamoured with the multiflora Turners Crimson Rambler. While hugely popular initially, its susceptibility to mildew and lack of fragrance were drawbacks that would account for its eventual demise. The public were becoming ready for an improved form of rambler. It was time for another swing in rose fashion, to the strong-growing, glossy-leaved pliant wichuraiana ramblers.

These ramblers were quite different.

Strong-growing, they could easily cover 10 metres. The glossy foliage, borne on pliant canes was ultra-healthy, resisting mildew. Spring-flowering, they could be relied on for two months flowering early in the season. Prolific blooms in large clusters ensured displays of great generosity. R.wichuraiana is a hardy creeper, native of Korea. It was ‘discovered’ in Japan by the botanist Dr. Wichura, who introduced it to Europe in 1873. In America it became famous as ‘The Memorial Rose’ and was widely planted in cemeteries as a ground cover, because of its shiny foliage and clusters of frilly white fragrant flowers.

American Influence

It was in America that the wichuraiana ramblers were first produced. Pioneers of these roses were Horvath, Manda, Van Fleet and Dawson in the early 1890s. Jackson Dawson was probably the first nurseryman to produce wichuraiana hybrids. He was superintendent of the Arnold arboretum at Harvard University for over 40 years. The earliest American wichuraiana hybrids were  South Orange Perfection (1897),Pink Roamer(1898), Gardenia(1899), Jersey Beauty(1899), Universal Favourite(1899), They were the result of crosses with Hybrid Perpetuals, Teas or Hybrid Teas.

The Four Types

In his book ‘Climbing Roses of the World’, Charles Quest-Ritson notes four types of wichuraiana hybrids:
1)    Late-flowering small flowered ramblers, bred from Turner’s Crimson Rambler, showing the influence of R. multiflora.
2)    Ramblers more closely related to R wichuraiana: large clusters of small flowers, single or double which open late in the season. Foliage small and very glossy. The plant throws up numerous long slender canes from the base every year.
3)    Ramblers of the Albéric Barbier type, bred by crossing R wichuraiana with Tea and Hybrid Tea roses.
4)    Roses with little of R. wichuraiana left in them, climbers like Paul’s Scarlet Climber and descendants of New Dawn. Their growth is moderate with even fewer basal shoots. This group he notes was identified in the 1930s and 40s.

Those familiar with wichuraiana ramblers will agree with much of Quest-Ritson’s classifications. Class (1) could be typified by the Dorothy Perkins type, with which I’m sure we’re all familiar. With small pom-pom double blooms in large clusters, they were predominantly American. They lacked fragrance.
The fact that Quest-Ritson identifies Barbier ramblers as being significantly different is interesting. He believes that, despite the recognisable difference in appearance of the Barbier family, they all stem from the same R. wichuraiana. He states (p166) ‘René Barbier was the hybridist. He imported Rosa wichuraiana from the United States in the 1890s, although he may have worked with one of the early American hybrids, for instance Jersey Beauty’.
There is a contrary view, which I believe has more to support it. The story is told, by J. H. Nicolas in his book ‘A Rose Odyssey’ He states: ‘I am told that the Barbiers took their inspiration from a trip made by one of them in 1900 when he visited M.H. Horvath in Ohio, reputed to be one of the first to hybridize the creeping species, R. wichuraiana. Anyone familiar with the hardy climbers may have noticed the difference between the Barbier varieties and climbers from other sources. The Barbier strain has heavy pithy canes, wood purplish red, and foliage highly varnished. But it is not altogether as hardy as many others. In 1925 I inquired from the Barbiers about hardiness and one of the brothers confided that the type of Wichuraiana they were using was its upright ally, R. luciae. I went to the Vilmorin arboretum near Paris, where the largest collection of rose species is to be found in France. Jacques de Vilmorin showed me both R. luciae and R. wichuraiana and told me the following story which was later confirmed by the since deceased E.H. Wilson:

Dr Wichura and Japan

When Dr. Wichura came back from Japan and reported to James Veitch, of England, the curious creeping rose that he had seen there, Veitch sent a mission to bring that rose to England. He named it R. wichuraiana in honour of its discoverer. Several years later, Dr. Wichura, visiting Veitch’s nursery was shown “his rose” but at once declared that it was not the rose that he had seen.
Veitch sent a second mission to Japan which located the true Wichura type as we know it. In the meantime, the first species had become known as R. wichuraiana. It was then renamed “R. wichuraiana, variety Luciae” because of the brilliant scarlet color of the foliage flaming in the Autumn like a light (in Latin “lux”). In course of time the word “wichuraiana” was dropped in its connection and the species is plain R. luciae. I have that species in my collection , and whoever sees it recognizes in it at once the characters of the Barbier’s strain. But it is not quite as hardy as the creeping form of R. wichuraiana. The only other rose I know developed from R. luciae-but not by the Barbiers- is Emily Gray from Dr Williams of England, which is far from universally hardy.’


Note: some writers are determined to correct what they consider an error of nomenclature. The rose named after Dr. Wichura should be called, they assert R. Wichurana. On the basis of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ I side with Peter Beales in retaining the name R. wichuraiana, that has been accepted for over a century. Please accept my decision. Being a pedant, I will not refer to R. wichurana.



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 Nicolas and his Explanation

I will also accept Nicolas’ explanation of how Barbiers came to use R. luciae in their hybridising, and assume this to be the case unless there is good reason not to. Only when robust DNA analysis can be brought to bear on the wichuraiana family will the luciae / wichuraiana issue be finally laid to rest

Note: Nicolas’ and Quest-Ritson’s date of 1900 for the Barbier’s trip to the USA is possibly suspect, because the first Barbier ramblers were released in 1900, and therefore must have been created before then, but Nicolas’ conclusions of Barbier’s use of R. luciae are eminently credible.

If, indeed Veitch’s first wichuraiana was R. luciae, it is perfectly reasonable that Barbiers acquired this rose from the Veitch nursery some years before 1900. It is more likely that the widely-reported Barbier visit to the USA took place after their initial hybridisation with R.luciae,


in the late 1890s. Help google and blind readers


Following Jack Harkness

I have followed in the footsteps of Jack Harkness, one of my great rosarian heroes.
I have admired his blunt and forthright appraisal of roses, never wasting words, never damning with faint praise. To paraphrase his words of recommendation ‘I can only give you mine, with three-star roses as my favourites, down to one-star roses, many of which are specialist items of interest, the standard has deliberately been set high, and many well-known roses are not dignified with a star at all’.  

In assessing Barbier’s work, I will first address his wichuraiana ramblers, which are his most significant. They are listed in chronological order. Later, Barbier’s polyanthas and other work will be discussed.

Over the years I have collected many Barbier rambling roses. I have admired them for their enormous  health, their glossy foliage and remarkable vigour. Many of them are deservedly three star roses. Our two hectare country garden at Trinity Farm was big enough to accommodate ramblers on pergolas, arbours, fences, trellises, ropes  and other structures. Our ancient two-storey barn became an ideal place to grow a strong rambler.

This was Albéric Barbier seen below, one plant that in ten years had grown more than 20 metres.


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Albéric Barbier consumes the barn at Trinity Farm

Alberic Barbier ***

The first, and possible the best of the Barbier ramblers, Albéric Barbier, introduced in 1900 was a cross between R. luciae and Shirley Hibberd, an 1874 Tea rose, bred by Antoine Levet in Lyon, the home of many successful French breeders, the most notable being the master, Vibert.

Shirley Hibberd was a seedling of the admired Tea rose Mme Falcot, developed by Guillot in 1858. Named after a man:  James Shirley Hibberd (1825–1890), who was one of the most popular and successful gardening writers of the Victorian era. Described as ‘nankeen-yellow to chamois-leather-yellow, medium-size, double, fine form, floriferous, growth’. Sadly there is no photograph of Shirley Hibberd  available


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With its handsome glossy foliage, Albéric Barbier  is one of the first roses to bloom in Spring. The fragrance is reminiscent of Granny Smith apples; the blooms start from buds of a buttery yellow, as they open they change to a lemon-white, and eventually fade to a more pure white. The Spring flowering will last at least two months, repeating intermittently into the Autumn.

Albéric Barbier  is unstoppable. Below, our cat Bollinger sits amongst the 10 year old trunks of the rose, as it ascends the walls of the barn.Help google and blind readers

Albéric Barbier  grew at Wellington airport, by the harbour, which lashed the rose with strong salt winds. Did Albéric care? Not at all.  When they needed to extend  the runway, Albéric was cut down, and the roots covered in tons of rocky material. Did this worry Albéric ? No, he just grew back as before.

Along the Kapiti Coast where I live, Albéric Barbier adorns the fence adjacent to the main highway, oblivious to cars, petrol fumes and even weedspraying local authorities.

Albéric Barbier the man died in 1895. It is fitting that the first Barbier rose, named five years later is one of their best.

After Alberic's Death

In 1900, four Barbier ramblers were introduced, three of them with the same parentage.

They were all the cross of R. Luciae with the Nabbonand noisette rose L’Ideal, whose colouring was described as ‘geranium to turkey-red, base indian yellow, semi-double.


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Strongly fragrant.’ 

Gilbert Nabonnand 1828-1903 learned his trade from Jean-Baptiste Guillot in Lyon.


 François Foucard*

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Introduced in 1900, Medium-yellow, ages rapidly to white. Strongly fragrant
Foliage is much less glossy than many other Barbier ramblers.

Paul Transon***

Salmon-pink, lilac highlight, yellow undertones. Fruity fragrance. Spring-flowering, with a profusion of blooms, but has good repeat throughout the season.


One of my favourite ramblers. Help google and blind readers


Paul Transon and his brothers owned the Olivet nursery that would eventually become Barbier et Cie.

 paul Transon2

Auguste Barbier

Since no picture is available, the 1900 Journal des Roses’ description may assist: ‘Semi-erect shrub, few prickles, glabrous in all its parts. Upright green branches. Dark green, bi or tri-...., coarsely serrated, crenated, the upper deformed; very large spreading serrated glandular stipules with very acute tips. Subpauciculate inflorescence, broken, loose, with reddish pedicels; ovary subspherical, reddish green like the receptacle, very acute sepals with membrane-like edges; semi-double bloom, 6 to 7 cm in diamter, with elongated petals, purplish lilac with white centre; stamens short twisted and yellow; greenish stigmas. Issued from R. Wichuraiana fertilized by the Noisette L'Idéale.’
I have never seen this rose – is it perhaps extinct ?

The following year, two more L’Ideal  wichuraiana ramblers would be introduced.

Elisa Robichon *

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Light pink, lilac highlights, light yellow undertones.  Mild fragrance.  Small, semi-double (9-16 petals), in large clusters bloom form.  Occasional repeat later in the season.  


   René André*


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Copper, pink shading, ages to blush .  Strong, apple, tea fragrance.  Average diameter 2.5".  Medium, semi-double (9-16 petals), borne mostly solitary bloom form.  Occasional repeat later in the season.


Contemporary with the five famous products from L’Ideal, Two single roses were then released, Rubra & Cramoisi Simple. They derived from a mating with Turner’s Crimson Rambler. Bushes of TCR were planted by the thousands everywhere, and no man’s home was considered complete without a Crimson Rambler. Of the Multiflora family, it was thornless, with large clusters of bright red blooms in big clusters. There was no fragrance. Scanniello says ‘When it was introduced into the United States, Crimson Rambler was an immediate and enormous success. It could be found climbing the sides of houses, screening porches, framing doorways, covering arches, pergolas and trellises. Room was made for it even in the smallest gardens. Charles Turner, the introducer said in 1892 the year before he introduced Crimson Rambler that it was one of the freest roses he knew. Blooming carelessly on long sturdy canes covered with healthy foliage and huge bouquets of compact, blood red flowers.’ Little surprise then that it was widely used by rose hybridists to produce a number of red ramblers.


Rubra Help google and blind readers


While Barbier had great success with the five crosses with the noisette L’Ideal, it is not surprising that he tried Turner’s Crimson Rambler. The original result, Rubra. in 1900 was sufficiently impressive for the rose to be released into commerce, and also for Barbier to continue his experiment.  


Crimoisi Simple 



He crossed Rubra,  again with R. Luciae to get Cramoisi Simple, which he released in 1901.  


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In 1907, Barbier released Francis, another cross with Rubra. No photographs exist, and it is likely extinct. Note: there is a multiflora rambler named Francis, produced by Fauque in 1909. This is a very double pink rose, not to be confused with Barbier’s single Francis.

It is interesting to note in passing that the American Walsh tried his hand with Turner’s Crimson Rambler,  in 1906 releasing Evangeline, a cross between R, wichuraiana and Turner’s Crimson Rambler. Imitation, perhaps being the sincerest form of flattery ?




Ferdinand Roussel,

In 1903, Barbier introduced Ferdinand Roussel, a seedling of Luciole, a Guillot Tea rose from 1886. Luciole was described as: "Carmine-pink, yellow shading, copper undertones, copper reverse.  Strong fragrance.  Large, double,  globular bloom form.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season.  Long, ovoid buds."  


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No pictures of Ferdinand Roussel are available, and we may assume that this rose is lost.
It was described as “Flesh-coloured, tinted with vinuous red, large.”  “ Violet red, flat bloom form”


Some further developments

Souvenir de Catherine Guillot.

After their success with multiple crosses of L’Ideal, Barbiers turned their attention to Souvenirde Catherine Guillot.


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Souvenir de Catherine Guillot a China rose, by Pierre Guillot of Lyon in 1895. The Journal des Roses of 1910 reported Guillot as saying ‘A third group, completely different than the two first, obtained by crossing the china Rival de Paestum with Madame Falcot, has formed a special type, which, hybridised again with Madame Falcot has resulted in this very floriferous and very ornamental series which we define as follows: vigorous shrub, woody, many canes, mostly upright, smooth; scattered medium-size not very hooked prickles; flexible, quite long peduncle; round receptacle, long sepals, dark green foliage, quite large, serrated leaflets with sharp prickles under the pedicel; bloom medium or large, double, mildly fragrant; colour varying from China-pink to Indian pink, more or less deep.
This was Souvenir de Catherine Guillot.


Described as ‘Carmine-red and yellow, orange undertones.  Strong  fragrance.  Medium to large, semi-double to double bloom form.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season. The German rose journal Die Rose of 1919 is more descriptive. ‘Tea rose. Buds nasturtium red, long and fine form. The expanded blooms have yellow to silvery pink reflexes. Almost every bloom is different from the others in colour’. Perhaps it is this quality of genetic instability that allowed results from the cross to be so different.

Barbier produced eight excellent ramblers from this cross, colours ranging from light pink through ivory flushed apricot, salmon-pink to orange-salmon and finally yellow.

Edmond Proust**

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This is a very interesting rose. Foliage and growth habit is typical Barbier – vigorous, glossy and healthy. The bloom is deeper pink in the centre, with the inner petals sometimes appearing quartered, other times quilled. Always interesting.

Named after Auguste Barbier’s father-in-law.

Adélaide Moullé

Released in 1902. No picture available.
Modern Roses 12 describes it thus: ‘Flowers lilac-pink, centre carmine. 4m double borne in clusters. Midseason bloom, foliage oval slightly pointed, reflexed.’

Valentin Beaulieu *

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Released in 1902.
Described by Graham Stuart Thomas as ‘lilac-pink, with darker centre’
Not dissimilar to Edmond Proust in colouring.

Alexandre Trémouillet *

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Released in 1903. Flowers blush white, tinted with rose and salmon centre’

Léontine Gervais **

From an article by Odile Masquelier on the roses at (her home) La Bonne Maison  ‘Raised by Barbier, and introduced in Orleans in 1903, much less vigorous than ‘Alberic Barbier’ or ‘Albertine’, Léontine Gervais is probably the name of someone who worked in the Barbier nursery. She is ideal for a large arch or a pergola. Flexible, she will weave in and out to join her neighbours, but she is easily controlled. Foliage that is healthy and glossy sets off medium size, semi-double flowers that are quite loose petalled; they drink in the light and allow a glimpse of their stamens. The round, tight buds of bright coral expand into peachy apricot blooms, creating a very luminous effect, but of a surpassing softness. She is called Léontine, but like Colette, I would prefer to call her Abricotine. To my knowledge no other rambler has this delicious nuance of colour, which blends marvellously with the ivory of ‘Gardenia’ or ‘City of York’ and with the soft but pure yellow of ‘Primevère’, another Barbier rose, alas now forgotten. Leontine will easily achieve 5 or 6m and like all the wichurianas, hates to be confined to a wall that is too warm for her. Arch, porch, gazebo, suit her well and in spite of her rather short flowering season, I could never just walk past this veil of salmon pink on the pergola at the very beginning of June. R. wichuriana x ‘Souvenir de Catherine Guillot’- once blooming.’


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Harkness says of her: ‘Peach pink 12ft climber. Vigorous; climber, with rather pendulous shoots; easy to train; healthy; foliage abundant, glossy, bright green; flowers pale peach pink, becoming lighter with age; semi-double, opening to 2ins diameter, with 20 petals, soon showing centre; profuse summer flush, hardly any flowers thereafter; flowers on side shoots growing from the wood of former years; often singly, sometimes 3 to a shoot, not often many more; flowers are thus well spaced on the plant with the bright foliage showing between them; weather resistance fair; faint scent.


Émile Fortépaule *

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Released 1903. Described as ‘white washed sulphur-yellow’ or ‘white flushed salmon’, this is a much more restrained colour than many of its brothers & sisters.


Jean Guichard *

Released in 1905. ‘Blossoms large, flowers bright carminy salmon, fading to carmine pink’ said the Journal des Roses. The fragrance was remarked on. There appears to be much in commonwith the colouring of Léontine Gervais.


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It is interesting to note the in 1905, the great Lyon breeder Guillot released Marco with the same parents as the eight Barbiers. It was named after his son Marc, and described as ‘white, centre coppery, aging to reddish orange-yellow’. No photograph exists. Perhaps this was Guillot’s oblique flattery for the outstanding efforts of the Barbier breeders ?



In 1909, Barbier released his final cross with Souvenir de Catherine Guillot. This was Pinson, which was described as ‘chamois-yellow tinted rosy white, very large semi-double blooms’. I have not seen this rose. It is not in Sangerhausen or L’Hay-les-Roses, and it is possible that it too has become extinct.

The Next Series

The next series of roses bred identically by Barbiers concerned the China rose Mme Laurette Messimy.

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It, too was the product of Guillot,  in 1887, a forerunner to Souvenir de Catherine Guillot.

She was described as ‘China, very vigorous, medium to large, fine form, long buds, bright china-pink, vivid coppery-yellow base. The china-pink colouring, shaded with yellow, will make this rose especially sought after for bouquets, equally this rose will be very suitable for group planting, as she is extraordinarily floriferous’ by Deusches Rosenbuch of 1888.  

Barbiers would produce four ramblers from this cross, including the highly-regarded François Juranville.


François Guillot *

Dark green glossy foliage, yellow buds, very double white flowers.

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François Juranville ***


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Introduced in 1906, she has no evidence of her parent’s yellow undertones, being a clear mid-pink.  Little fragrance, one Spring flowering only, but staggeringly beautiful.

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Like most of Barbier’s ramblers, all these crosses with L’Ideal were pliant ramblers, capable of extending 10 metres.


Joseph Lamy

Little is known of this rose, introduced 1906. Described as ‘once flowering, porcelain white, tinted pink, large, semi-double’ No photographs exist.

Jules Levacher

Introduced 1908. The blooms were described as ‘pale Chinese pink, of medium size’.

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Others described it as ‘Pale pink, yellow at the base of petals.’





François Poisson **

Introduced 1904, this rambler bore a strong resemblance to Albéric Barbier, both in foliage, in vigour and appearance of the blooms. Colloquially known at Trinity Farm as ‘Frank the Fish’, we eventually discontinued it’s production, fearing it was a mis-named Albéric Barbier.

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Recently I visited the garden of long-time customer Olga Yuretich, where she proudly showed me François Poisson growing.  I was convinced that I had got it wrong, and this rose was in fact correctly named.

Possibly named for François Poisson 1727-1781, the Marquis de Marigny, father of Madame de Pompadour, who directed planting of the gardens of the Champs Élysées. A rose of the Albéric Barbier type, with double white flowers tinged yellow. Look out for the Noisette strain in this Wichuraiana.’ said G A Stevens in Climbing Roses of 1933. Francois Poisson was bred from a cross with the Noisette rose William Allan Richardson. 


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Joseph Billard


In 1905, Barbier released another single rose, Joseph Billard. This was a cross with Mme Eugene Résal, herself a seedling of Mme Laurette Messimy.

Four roses, Rubra, Cramoisi Simple, Francis & Joseph Billard  were the only single roses Barbier produced.

Alexandre Girault **

Released in 1907, Alexandre Girault was a seedling of Papa Gontier, a Tea rose produced by Nabonnand in 1883, named in honour of a celebrated French horticulturalist.

Papa Gontier enjoyed huge popularity, and it was only natural that Barbier would use it in his breeding program.
Colouring was described as ‘coppery pink with a carmine-red reverse’

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Graham Stuart Thomas, whose opinion is always reliable described the rose thus: ‘Dark glossy leaves... Pretty buds of deeper colour open to almost scarlet flowers... white centre, green eye, and yellow stamens; the colour deepens to lilac-carmine, but remains paler on the reverse of the petals.

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Nobody who has been to Roseraie du Val-de-Marne at L’Hay-les-Roses near Paris in Spring can fail to remember the sight of Alexandre Girault on the majestic arbour at the entrance to this wonderful collection. It is huge and inspiring, and a fitting tribute to the majesty of Barbier’s ramblers.


Désiré Bergera *


Continuing the success of François Juranville , Barbier went to one of the children of Mme
Laurette Messimy, This time using Aurore, a pink China rose bred by the widow Schwartz of Lyon in 1897. No picture of Aurore is available, but the description from Helpmefind is: Salmon-yellow, carmine-pink shading, ages to cream .  Moderate fragrance.  Double bloom form.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season.  

Désiré Bergera


Joseph Liger **

Released in 1909, this rose is a further derivative from Mme Laurette Messimy, This time using Irène Watts, a pale apricot-pink China rose bred by Guillot in 1895. There is some confusion as to whether the ‘true’  Irène Watts still exists, so no picture is offered.

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This rose is believed to be lost. It is referenced in Modern Roses 12 as ‘Wich. Barbier, 1910. Flowers lilac pink’  I can find no other reference to it.

Casimir Moullé & Paul Ploton

Mme Norbert Levavasseur descends from the ubiquitous Turner's Crimson Rambler

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The Polyantha Mme Norbert Levavasseur was used in the production of two Barbier ramblers, released in 1910.  Barbier would later produce Polyanthas himself, but this was the first time he had used them in production of a wichuraiana rambler.


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Levavasseur produced eight Polyanthas in Orleans. This was his first, in 1905. It was also known as ‘Baby Red Rambler’ and is famous for being the parent of the Orleans Rose


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Edgar Andreu

In 1912, Barbier introduced Edgar Andreu, a rambler from Cramoisi Superieur.
No photographs exist. The rose labelled Edgar Andreu at Sangerhausen is incorrect, and unfortunately there is no other evidence of its continued existence. It is possible that the rose that Sangerhausen has is mis-labelled, and the real Edgar Andreu is still growing there, but wrongly labelled. (I am advised that this has happened before, with unskilled gardeners, and the need to protect rambling roses in the harsh Sangerhausen winters)
Cramoisi Superieur is a very good red China, dating to 1832, origins uncertain. Blood-red with occasional white stripes.
Edgar Andreu is described as ‘vivid blood-red, shaded magenta, fades to crimson, reverse vivid pink, center petals striped white, very floriferous, cluster-flowered. ‘


Introduced in 1911, this was one of Barbier’s more interesting if unsuccessful crosses.
Moss roses, a mutation from the Centifolia family, had fascinated the gardeners of Europe from the sixteenth century. They were distinguished by mossy glands surrounding the bud that secreted a fragrant resinous oil. By the mid-nineteenth century, hybridists had managed to produce ‘mossy remontant’ roses, one of which was Salet. It was released by François Lacharme of Lyon in 1854, from unknown parents. Lacharme studied under Duval and Hardy, buying the Lyon premises of Plantier in 1840. Help google and blind readers


Salet is described by Botanica’s Roses ‘Its stems are moderately thorny and sparsely covered with light-colored, reddish, mossy stubble... clear bright pink flowers that have a multitude of fluted, narrow petals to give an overall muddled effect, often with a central button’.

Barbier’s cross to produce a climbing Moss rose could only be described as a novelty. The result is a once-flowering rose of little character, that suffers from mildew. The mossy buds in the photograph show that Salet’s mossiness has indeed been preserved, but alas that’s about all one can say for Wichmoss. It has little fragrance, and a rather insignificant bloom-
note the mossy buds.

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Le Poilu

In 1915, Barbier would release Le Poilu, which saw Wichmoss crossed with Moussue de Japon (Japonica Moss) which was pink-purple.  Help google and blind readers
The result was considerably better than Wichmoss, but sadly this rose is rarely seen.

Auguste Gervais **

Released in 1916, towards the end of Barbier’s prodigious wichuraiana production, this is oneof the less well-known, but most attractive ramblers


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Bred from Joseph Pernet-Ducher’s 1903 medium-yellow Hybrid Tea Le Progrès, Unfortunately no pictures exist of Le Progrès.

Geoffrey Henslow’s 1934 book, The Rose Encyclopedia described it as ‘Coppery-yellow and salmon rose, changing to chamois and creamy white, double, very large for its class; bus coppery apricot yellow, tinged aurora pink. Growth very vigorous, climbing.’
The American Rose Annual of 1919 noted ‘The buds are coppery yellow tinted aurora-apricot, opening to coppery yellow and rosy salmon, passing to creamy white. The enormous flowers measure from 4 to 5 inches across and are produced in great abundance in clusters of ten to twenty.’
The master, Graham Stuart Thomas distinguished the rose thus: ‘First-class foliage and large flowers... coppery flame-pink on the reverse which makes a splendid contrast to the bland creamy-apricot on the inside of the petals... always beautiful in hot weather... Has a long flowering season... ‘
It would appear that the later Barbier wichuraianas were more inclined to climb than to ramble, as we will find with Albertine and Primevere.

Henri Barruet **

 Henri Barruet *


 Introduced in 1918, breeding unknown. Described as ‘Copper to light yellow, pink edges, carmine-pink veining, ages to light pink .  Large, in large clusters bloom form.  Occasional repeat later in the season.’ Well-liked

Maxime Corbon *

In 1918, Barbier released another Polyantha cross, this time using Leonie Lamesch.


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She was the wife of Peter Lambert of Trier, noted nurseryman, and founder of Sangerhausen.



The rose appears to have inherited all the colourings and style of Leonie Lamesch, which Ihave always regarded as a very superior rose.


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By 1920, Pernetianas were in vogue, so it wasn’t surprising to find Barbier using them.
Arthur R Goodwin was a 1909 HT, from Pernet-Ducher, a sport of Soleil d’Or
Described as ‘Orange-red, copper shading, ages to salmon-pink’. Like most of the Pernetianas, it had a tendency towards Black spot.



Albertine ***

By 1921 Barbier’s were producing few new wichuraiana ramblers. Their production included Polyanthas, Pernetianas and Hybrid Teas, but this did not mean the quality of their new roses was reduced. Albertine is one of their greatest. This is by no means a typical wichuraiana rambler; instead its canes are thicker and stiffer, the leaves not as glossy. In many ways, Albertine behaves more like a climber than a rambler. She is however one of Barbier’s truly great roses.


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The sight of Albertine’s  summer blooms is unforgettable. The strong fragrance likewise.
Albertine descends from Mrs Arthur Robert Waddell, a 1909 Hybrid Tea
Note the foliage is by no means typical glossier Barbier-type.


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This, however is without doubt the most fragrant Barbier rose.              

Dr Arthur Robert Waddell was a Scottish doctor, living in England. He was interested in developing a true yellow rose without the underlying ‘blue’ tones which the petals may reflect. He developed ideas of colour blocking ‘screens’. He approached Pernet-Ducher with his screen and ideas with a plea for developing the strongest possible yellow rose.

Pernet-Ducher responded with the rose Mrs A R Waddell by way of thanks.
Parentage is not recorded.
She is a strong-growing early HT, with good repeat. We grow her in a bed adjacent to Albertine, which climbs through a camellia tree.

When they are in flower together, the family resemblance is quite obvious.  


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Primevere *

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Produced in 1929, Primevere is another ‘wichuraiana’ with a climbing habit.
Foliage is characteristically glossy, but habit is much more stiff and upright than most Barbiers. This is a very good clear yellow rose, which ages to creamy-white.
It will grow to 3m. Foliage is dark green  The name translates as ‘Primrose’

Its parent, Constance was a golden-yellow Pernet-Ducher HT bred in 1915, a seedling of Rayon d’Or. ‘Golden yellow...
a step in advance toward the perfect yellow Rose...’ said Pernet-Ducher.


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(note the similarity in bud / colouring with Primevere)


Barbier used Constance in breeding two other roses.

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Coupe d’Or *

In 1930, Barbier released a seedling of Jacotte

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Survives in very cold weather. Flowers are medium in size ,bright buttercup yellow, fading to white as they age. Blooms are full, opening to show a green eye. Strongly scented.

Henri Linger

Henri Linger was introduced in 1928. According to Modern Roses 12, it was “Flowers clear yellow-orange, open semi-double. Foliage light glossy, very vigorous climbing growth.
The breeding was given as a wichuraiana seedling from  Bénédicte Seguin, a 1918 Pernet-Ducher orange-copper Pernetiana. No photos exist of either rose. Henri Linger is assumed to be extinct.

And the last of the Ramblers

Paul Dauvesse

In 1933, their last rose, Paul Dauvesse was released.
Modern Roses 12 says of it: “ Hybrid Multiflora.Bud long, golden yellow. Flowers bright canary yellow, large double, borne in clusters of 4-8. Vigorous, climbing growth.”
There are no further references in the literature. If the multiflora breeding is correct, this would have been Barbier’s only one, which I feel is rather unlikely.
It is assumed that this rose is no longer grown.  

Other Barbier Roses

Of the 67 roses introduced by Barbier from 1900 through to 1933, 42 were wichuraiana ramblers, six were Polyanthas, eight were Hybrid Teas, three were Hybrid Perpetuals, and three Pernetianas. I will discuss the remainder in family groups.


The origins of the Polyantha are late in the nineteenth century. Gerd Krüssmann in The Complete Book of Roses tells the story: “About 1865, Robert Fortune , who had been an active plant collector in China and Japan for a number of years, sent a low-growing non-recurrent form of Rosa multiflora home to England. The flowers were pink , semi-double and came in trusses. In 1870 the Mayor of Lyon in France received a plant of it which was put into the local park. One way or another it was soon widely distributed and came into the hands of Jean Sisley, also of Lyon, who obtained a number of interesting seedlings from it. It is very likely that he sent one of these seedlings to his friend, the nurseryman Guillot in Lyon, and that the latter propagated it and put it into commerce under the name of Ma Pâcquerette in 1875.”
From there, other nurserymen, including Bennett and Paul in England, Soupert & Notting in Luxembourg and Peter Lambert in Germany took an interest. Naturally, the rest of the French pépinièristes, notably those in Orleans also took notice.



Introduced by Manda in 1899, Universal Favourite was a wichuraiana crossed with the Hybrid Perpetual American Beauty.

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In 1911, Barbier produced Bordure,a seedling of American Beauty
Whereas Universal Favourite was fragrant, Bordure, like most Polyanthas has no fragrance.


Introduced by Barbier in 1913. The breeding of this rose is unknown.

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Translation – Ranunculus (or possibly ‘buttercup’)


La Marne

Introduced by Barbier in 1915.
Breeding: Mme Norbert Levavasseur x Comtesse du Cayla
Named to commemorate the First World War battle in 1914, in which the French defeated the Germans, forcing them to abandon their advance on Paris.

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Introduced in 1916. Parentage unknown

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Introduced by Barbier in 1918, to commemorate the horrendous WW1 battle at the town of the same name.




In 2003 we visited Verdun, seeing the underground caverns and being chilled by the horrors of this awful senseless war.
Breeding not known



Introduced by Barbier in 1916.
Breeding unknown.
Dark crimson Polyantha, sometimes striped white.
No photograph available

Mimi Pinson

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Introduced by Barbier in 1919.  Breeding unknown


Other Barbier roses:

Auguste Roussel *

In 1913, Barbier produced a very different climbing rose, using as the seed parent Rosa macrophylla, a deep pink single thornless species rose. with matte coarsely veined leaves.

The pollen parent was Papa Gontier who he had used with such success in Alexandre Girault, six years previously



. Auguste Roussel


The resultant climber was relatively thornless, with soft pink blooms and wonderful golden stamens on a large bloom that was a little more then single. Foliage is matte and not as deeply veined as the species parent. In character, this rose bore little resemblance to any other Barbier rose, and must be viewed as an departure from the previous pattern. Barbier would not repeat this again with his climbers & ramblers. This rose has a reputation for hardiness.


The Hybrid Perpetuals 

Literally 'reblooming hybrids', these were the first European roses to combine the remontancy from the Chinas, with the style of the old European roses. Tougher in Europe than the tender Tea roses, their very large blooms suited them well to the new phenomenon of competitive exhibitions. The HPs came into vogue in the second half of the nineteenth century, eventually being superceded by the Hybrid Teas of the twentieth century.

    Frau Karl Druschk


Barbier used Frau Karl Druschki four times. This purest of pure white roses was bred by Peter Lambert of Trier in 1901. He combined the Pernet Merveille de meiges with the Pernet-Ducher Hybrid Tea Mme Caroline Testout to produce a strong-growing white rose that he named after the president of the German Rose Society. The name  Frau Karl Druschki did not fit well with the Americans, who would rename it Snow Queen or White American Beauty.   It had no fragrance


Henri Coupé

The first HP Barbier produced was Henri Coupé  in 1916.
A cross with the admired Gruss an Tepliz, a crimson China.
It was a strong-growing HP with long stems, its blooms were fragrant.

 henri Coupe
It is still grown today.                                                        

Essentially Henri Coupé is a tribute to Peter Lambert, the breeder of Frau Karl Druschki and the introducer of Gruss an Tepliz.

Eugène Barbier

The next Frau Karl Druschki cross introduced by Barbier was Eugène Barbier, in 1920. Eugène was Albert Barbier's younger brother. It was a cross with Rayon d'Or, a Pernet-ducher yellow rose. The  Rosenlexikon of 1936  said " Barbier, Eugène (HP) Barbier 1920; glossy golden-yellow to canary-yellow, shaded coppery golden-yellow, very large, double, globular, lasting, solitary or up to 4, fragrance 3/10, floriferous, long strong stems, large glossy leathery foliage, few prickles, growth 6/10, upright, hardy." Unfortunately no pictures are available, although this rose is probably still grown today.

Mme Albert Barbier

The third cross, in 1925 was Mme Albert Barbier. The other parent is not identified.

 mme Albert Barbier


The Worlds New Roses of 1926 said of it: " Seedling of 'Frau Karl Druschki'... very lasting, salmon, tinted nankeen-yellow, darker center of orange-yellow and light rose..."
It is unlikely that Albert Barbier would name a rose for his wife unless it were an exceptional rose.  The rose is still available today in France.

Mme André Saint

The fourth cross with Frau Karl Druschki used Bénédicte Seguin, a Pernet-Ducher Hybrid Tea, described as "orange-yellow with copper shadings".


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The rose called Mme André Saint is an almost thornless, white rose.
It is described as 'very fragrant'
The rose is still available in France

Marie Menudel

Finally, Barbier produced  Marie Menudel in 1927. It is described as "Rose-pink, tinted salmon". No evidence exists to suggest that it is still available.


Pernetianas were the brainchild of Joseph Pernet-Ducher of Lyon who experimented with R. foetida to produce the first yellow HT Soleil d'Or in 1900. He then used it to produce Rayon d'Or ,an improved yellow.
Barbier's first Pernetiana was Louis Barbier, produced in 1909. (sometimes known as Louise Barbier) It was a cross of Mme Bérard with R. foetida bicolor. Described as "Climber, flowers coppery orange with dark yellow striping, 7cm, semi-double, borne in small clusters"  No photographs exist, and this rose may be extinct.

Barbier then used Rayon d'Or with another Pernet-Ducher rose, Mme Caroline Testout


 mme caroline testout


to produce La Somme in 1919 - named after one of the bloodiest battles of the First War,where over a million men died 

La Somme


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Jules Tabart

In 1920, Barbier produced Jules Tabart, a seedling of Mme Edouard Herriot, who was a seedling of Mme Caroline Testout.
No photograph exists, but Jules Tabart was described as " Salmon-pink, silver(y) shading, coral-pink center.  Mild to strong fragrance.  Large, double (17-25 petals), borne mostly solitary, in small clusters, high-centered bloom form.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season.  "

Hybrid Teas

The world's first HT is widely believed to be La France, raised by Guillot in 1867. The Hybrid Tea name is from the cross between Hybrid Perpetuals and Tea roses. It was not until 1884 that the Hybrid Tea class was recognised as being distinct from the HPs.

Barbier's first HT was La Champagne, introduced in 1919. It was described in Modern Roses 12 as " bud long, pointed. flowers light coppery red, base yellow edged light pink, large 25 petals, globular, foliage rich green, leathery, vigorous growth." No picture is available. This rose may be unobtainable.



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Five years later, in 1924, Barbier produced Reims. Parentage of Reims is not known. The rose is believed to still exist in Europe.

Eugène Transon

In 1926, Barbier released Eugène Transon a cross between the admired Mme Bérard and Constance. It was described as "Climber, Hybrid Tea, Cl., Large-Flowered Climber.  Copper - orange, red stripes, yellow center.  Reverse shaded fiery red.  Moderate fragrance.  Large, double (17-25 petals), in small clusters bloom form.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season. "  

There were two other Eugène Transons. Barbier's also produced a strawberry of this name, which was listed in the USDA catalogue of plants imported to the USA in 1925.
Eugene Transon. This dwarf variety, with very thick, short flower vStems, bears

bright red, superb fruits which are enormous, nearly as big as Mademoiselle Moutot,
but of a more regular shape, resembling Docteur Morere. The firm1, sweet, melting flesh is a rosy salmon and richly perfumed. This is a mid-early sort and
especially noted for its early crop. (Catalogue of Barbier & Go.)

Further, there was a Eugène Transon, a red. Hybrid Perpetual, produced by Vigneron in 1881. Vigneron was a prolific nurseryman of Olivet, who produced roses from 1850 to 1913.  
Unfortunately no photographs of Eugène Transon  exits.
Rosenlexikon of 1936 describes it thus: "Transon, Eugène (HT) Barbier 1926; Mme. Bérard X Constance; coppery orange, striped and suffused red and orange, center glossy orange-nannkeen and copper, large, double, in clusters of 4-6, fragrance 4/10, floriferous, continuous bloom, strong stems, good foliage, growth 6/10, climbing. "

Mme Henri Gravereaux,


Barbier also released in 1926 Mme Henri Gravereaux, a seedling of Mrs Aaron Ward.

 Mme henri Gravereaux

The produce of Pernet-Ducher in 1907, she was a Hybrid Tea, with parentage unknown and
she was described as: " indian yellow, occasionally  shaded salmon-pink"

Barbier would use this rose again in his breeding programme.


Mrs Aaron Ward

Mme Henri Gravereaux was the daughter-in-law of Jules Gravereaux, creator in 1899 of the garden of Val de Marne (L'Hay-les-Roses), the most significant collection of roses in France. This garden remains, in my opinion the greatest garden of historic roses in the world.


mrs Aaron Ward

There is another rose of this name, In 1904, Cochet-Cochet produced a rugosa hybrid
In 1928, Barbier produced two another Mrs Aaron Ward HT, and H. Chaubert.

H. Chaubert

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This was described as Coppery-salmon, open, semi-double, borne in clusters. Foliage rich green glossy., bushy growth.

In 1928, Barbier produced Georges Perdoux, of which little is known.

It is described as " Flowers reddish-pink tinted copper-red, double"
No photographs exist, and it is likely that this rose is now extinct.

In 1929, Barbier released Abricot, a Hybrid Tea with parents Mrs Aaron Ward & Jean C. N. Forestier. The second-named was a carmine-red HT produced in 1919 by Pernet-Ducher.
No photograph is available, but the description is: " Bud medium size, globular, coppery red; flower medium size, semi-double, open, cupped, rather lasting, moderately fragrant, apricot and coral-salmon, reverse coral-red, borne several together on medium length stem. Foliage abundant, medium size, rich green, glossy, disease-resistant. Growth vigorous, upright, bushy; continuous bloomer. "

In 1928 Barbier released Buisson d'Or (Golden Bush) It was classified as a Hybrid Foetids, and described as " Yellow.  Mild, strong fragrance.  Large, double (17-25 petals), full (26-40 petals) bloom form.  Once-blooming spring or summer. "  No picture available

A year later, Barbier released Rustica. It had the same parentage as Buisson d'Or (Mme Edouard Herriot x Harison's yellow)
There is some doubt as to its classification. Modern Roses calls it a Hybrid Spinosissima, Helpmefind a Hybrid Foetida.
The description from MR12 is :"Flowers straw-yellow and gold. Center apricot, reverse cirton-yellow. Semi-double, moderate fragrance, non-recurrent bloom, growth to 6 feet. Mme Edouard Herriot x Harison's Yellow"
Again, no picture available. These two roses may still be available, although I have no details.

Finally in 1929, Barbier released his last Hybrid Tea, Vermillion.
The only reference, Modern Roses 12 says "HT Barbier 1929. Flowers scarlet tinged orange, base yellow. Semi-double. Constance x Paul's Scarlet Climber; introduced by Dreer"  
Dreer was a nurseryman in Philadelphia, who imported plants & seeds from France.
It is assumed that this rose is now extinct.

Sources and Acknowledgements

Modern Roses 12.  American Rose Society 2007
Climbing Roses of the World. Charles Quest-Ritson. Timber Press 2003
Climbing Roses. Stephen Scanniello and Tanya Bayard. Prentice Hall 1994
A Rose Odyssey. J H Nicolas.  Doubleday 1937
The Old Rose Adventure. Brent Dickerson. Timber Press 1999
Roll Call: The Old Rose Breeder. Brent Dickerson. Authors Choice Press 2000
Roses.  Jack Harkness.  Dent, 1978
Climbing Roses. G A Stevens. MacFarland  1933
Botanica’s Roses.  Bill Grant ed. Random House 2005
The Complete Book of Roses. Gerd Krüssmann. Batsford 1974
Albert & René Barbier: Great breeders of Orleans
Article by Anne & Elisabeth Person,  in Roses & Rosiers, published by Friends of the Roseraie du Val-de-Marne at L’Hay-les-Roses, translated by Brigid Quest-Ritson,
also translated and interpreted by Jocelen Janon & Maureen Keen

Catalogues of Barbier & cie

I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the following people:
M. Jean Turbat of Olivet for his kindness in showing me much of the history of Olivet’s pepinieristes.
Etienne Bouret (Amiroses) of L’Hay-les-Roses for kind permission to use his wonderful photographs.
Margaret Furness for her picture of Constance
Bruna Tadolini for the picture of Paul Ploton
Margareta Ciragan for her pictures of Mme Norbert Levavasseur and Mrs Aaron Ward
Karen Piercy, proprietor of Trinity Farm for the picture of Salet
Jean Michaud for the picture of Leon Barbier & family
Ulrike Hilborn for help with German & French translation
Jocelen Janon, past-president Heritage Roses NZ
Joanne Knight, past-president of Heritage Roses NZ
Remoncule image from D Brochet & BG La Presle.

My wife, and fellow rosarian Ann Chapman for persuading me this project needed to be undertaken.


Ann & Lloyd established Trinity Farm in Otaki, New Zealand in 1990.
Initially a derelict farmhouse on ten acres, it was developed as an old rose nursery, a display garden and an orchard.
The garden grew to three acres, with over 1,600 old roses, with extensive collections of:
-    Albas
-    Gallicas
-    Damasks
-    Rugosas
-    Wichuraiana ramblers
-    Hybrid Musks
-    Chinas
-    Spinosissimas
-    Species roses
-    The thornless ramblers of Ken Nobbs

The nursery grew all its roses on their own roots.

In 2008, Trinity Farm was sold to Karen Piercy, who continues the tradition.

The Chapmans now live in Otaki village on ½ acre. Their smaller garden has over 100 selected favourite old roses, including several Barbier ramblers.
In 2012, Ann Chapman published worldwide her book Women in my Rose Garden, a set of biographies of the women and the roses named after them.
She is currently working on Missionary Wives and Roses, featuring the roses of Ken Nobbs, co-founder of the NZ Heritage Roses movement. This book will be published late in 2012.

Lloyd Chapman has written two biographies. He has written many articles for the NZ Heritage Roses Journal. This is his first book about roses.

Lloyd can be contacted at