The 'Luciae' or 'Wichuriana' Rambler Roses

The 'Luciae' or 'Wichuriana' hybrids are a small group of rambler roses bred from either Rosa luciae wichuriana or Rosa luciae luciae during the last years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth. Much of the early work was done by Barbier et Cie and there would be every justification to call this group of roses "The Barbier Group". With very rare exceptions the roses in this group are from the seed of either Rosa luciae luciae or Rosa luciae wichuriana and the pollen of other roses; in many there is no R. multiflora or to R. sempervirens ancestry. The largest collection of Barbier Ramblers is to be found growing at the Roseraie de l'Hay near Paris.

The French nursery of Barbier et Cie, which subsequently became Barbier Freres et Compagnie, introduced more than fifty Ramblers though sadly today many are no longer in commerce. In the first quarter of the century Barbier released many wonderful cultivars from Rosa luciae luciae using top class Tea, China and Noisette roses as the pollen bearers. At the same time, and also in the Orleans region of France, the nursery of Fauque et Fils were also raising hybrids from R.l. luciae, as indeed was the nursery of Remi Tanne near Rouen.

In the USA during the same period rose breeders were also engaged in similar hybridisation using R. l. wichuriana rather than R. l. luciae. Foremost among the American breeders were Michael Horvath in Rhode Island, Michael Walsh and W Albert Manda in New Jersey, and Dr Van Fleet of Maryland.

After the 1920's interest in these Ramblers in Europe waned and there was little further development, however in the USA there was a continuation of the breeding and many fine roses of Wichuriana ancestry, both Rambler and Climber, were raised during the 1930's and 1940's particularly by Dr & Mrs Brownsell in Rhode Island, and Martin Jacobus in New Jersey.

In 1910 Dr W Van Fleet had introduced a rose of the same name, twenty years later a clear light pink sport was introduced by Somerset Rose Nursery. 'New Dawn' is usually classified as a Climber rather than a Rambler, it has medium size semi-double flowers, a strong scent, and is repeat flowering: it has been used widely by breeders and is the parent of many fine Climbers.

Rosa luciae luciae originates from China, and Rosa luciae wichuriana from Japan, in all probability they are the same in all but name, though the Ramblers bred from R. l. luciae are considerably hardier than those from R. l. wichuriana, and it is probably the reason many of the Barbier Ramblers have survived in Northern Europe. A common feature of the roses in this group is that they all have beautiful glossy foliage of refined shape and form; unfortunately however this invaribly becomes mildewed when grown against a wall , and they are best grown in positions where they have totally free movement of air on trellis, arches or pergola.

The flower forms vary from cultivar to cultivar but they are almost all of 'old rose form'. Some are flat and others slightly cupped; some quilled and some quartered; some are loosely double and others single; but without exception, to a greater or lesser degree, they all possess the most wonderful fragrance which is often referred to as being of 'fresh apple'. Many cultivars still retain the trait of the old roses and possess the factor that allows their fragrance to 'float' on the air.

Whilst most of the roses in this group will have the occasional flower from June to October they are not fully recurrent, and have their main flowering in June. It may be a short flowering period but is one of the joys of the summer.

Our collection of 'Luciae' or 'Wichuriana' Ramblers had to be moved to allow building work to be carried out and is now together in a 'rose walk', as time goes by we hope to source further elusive Barbier cultivars in Europe.

Details of ramblers of Luciae or Wichuriana descent which have no R. sempervirens or R. multiflora in their breeding are found in R. l. luciae and R. l. witchuriana Ramblers - Direct hybrids those indicated with a Ö are to be found growing in our garden .......... and hopefully some of those we do not have will find their way here before too long!

Of course many fine roses were raised from R. l. witchuriana or R. l. luciae where ancestry can also be traced back to R. sempervirens and/or R. multiflora, details of these are included in Ramblers of mixed Wichuriana breeding.

and there are of course a few other roses to be found in our garden, these are included in General Roses.

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