what's in a name?

Campanula UK Z8October 5, 2013

There have been several posts where we have wondered whether a name of a rose (or any plant for that matter) would be off-putting enough to prevent anyone buying (or growing) one (I could never have a rose called Ronald Reagan in my garden). Conversely, I am certain that many of us have had plants purely because we liked the name. Certainly, a popular option is the namesake plant, chosen in homage to someone (or something). However, what about simply liking the sound of a name. I grow Crepuscule purely on account of the name (and for a while, I managed to insinuate 'crepuscular; into my speech as often as possible)....although it is a fairly rubbish rose for my garden. Way back in my novice garden days, I also bought several plants without the faintest idea what they were, purely because I liked the sound of their names (japanese anemones, Rose of Sharon). Anyone else?

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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

I don't believe I've acquired a plant because of its name, or avoided any plant, either, for that reason. But I know certain plant names seem to give Americans the fits--such as "Young Lycidas", the Austin rose. Up here in the hinterlands, no one knows what a "Young Lycidas" is exactly. Could it be some kind of bird, immature female from ancient Greece? Lucky me, I remember the agony of studying Milton in college (oh, the boredom), and dear "Young Lycidas" is firmly planted in the deepest recesses of my elderly brain. Further, I challenge my fellow Idahoans to pronounce the name of that lovely vine, clematis. They haven't a clue, but thanks to the wonders of the vocabulary page of "Fine Gardening" magazine, I have been educated as to its proper pronunciation. Lastly, I am sure that any graduate of the British education system would have no problem with "Young Lycidas" or the word, clematis, for that matter. You have us beat there, campanula, for sure. Diane

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 8:30PM
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roseseek

When I worked at the beach, I couldn't give away the rose "Billy Graham", though it was actually quite a good performer there. "Caesar Chavez" was another no one wanted, until it carried the name, "Beloved". I remember reading how the rose President Herbert Hoover was ripped out of many rose gardens, and in those which permitted it to remain, it was NEVER referred to by THAT name. I grew "Hi, Neighbor" as the greeting to my old Newhall garden. I grew a number of "alcohol" roses together in a bed (Tequilla Sunrise, Champagne Cocktail, etc.), and have grown many simply for whom they were named (Marion Anderson, Amelia Earhart, Constance Spry, Grace Seward, Jeanne Kenneally, K of K, for example). There was even a small bed containing, California, Los Angeles and California Centennial, the "official State Rose" of California by Legislative decree in 1949. I grouped Buck's "music and dance series" together in a musical bed (Grace Note, Frontier Twirl, Mountain Music, Rural Rhythm, etc.)

I still grow Snowbird because it is the only rose R. Marion Hatton bred. He was well respected, the rose is very good here, and it pleases me to provide him that small measure of immortality. I grow my own seedlings named for beloved friends and relatives out of similar sentiments. Kim

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 8:31PM
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fig_insanity Z7a E TN

I'll admit to being a sucker for any rose with a French name. I speak French fluently, and I'm an incurable romantic, so I can't resist something with a name like Souvenir de Germain de Saint-Pierre, Félicité et Perpétue, Souvenir de la Malmaison, and a host of others. I'm still looking for Fiammetta Nabonnand (or Papa Gontier àFleurs Blanc). I've never even seen a photograph, and don't know if it still exists, but I'VE GOT TO HAVE IT! lol.

John

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 8:39PM
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ogrose_tx

Years ago I bought Las Vegas, purely from the name; not a very good rose, but the few blooms are gorgeous.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 9:02PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I know mom would have a fit if I moved a Pope in to the garden......

I would have a hard time buying Golden Showers and not giggling as I referred to the plant.

I did buy one that I loved the flowers and the info behind it, but hate the name for personal reasons. So, I pronounce it differently than probably intended, but it works for me.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 9:43PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Kim -- Another good reason to grow Snowbird is that it is a damned good rose for SoCal.

Kippy -- I also could not grow Golden Showers, though it IS lovely. (See below, in an old cemetery.)

Like Camp, I wouldn't consider Ronald Reagan. But I grew for years, Grace Seward, because I respected the lady (though she could have a tongue like an asp) and Jean Kenneally because she -- the lady -- was a complete delight.

Jeri

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 9:54PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Probably half my roses were picked for their names. I have roses for friends, relatives, all my cats have roses, I have historical and literary favorites...I have all of Lens' composers...Robin Hood, Pied Piper, Jiminy Cricket, Peter Pan, Pinocchio...

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 11:05PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Early on I tried to get a rose with the names of all my family members in them but that ended rather quickly as a lot of them didn't winter well. And I was stumped because I couldn't find any rose with Alan, spelled that way, in it for my brother.

There are some I don't care for the names of and probably wouldn't buy but even that has it's limits as I fell hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Ronald Regan tree rose I found in a local nursery once. I couldn't afford it at the time (it was VERY pricey) and now I can't find one anywhere and regret not getting it anyway.

I do have some that I just love the names of. Quietness, for instance, just looks like it's name in it's soft elegance of color and form.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:16AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

There are names I don't want in my gardens--especially certain religious names and some politicians. I would feel I was betraying my principles!

Since I'm a literary person, I'm quite often attracted to certain roses, Austins in particular, because the names have literary associations. Can't say the literary association is the main reason I get the rose, but I'm primed to like a rose whose name is Lady of Shalott or Shakespeare 2000 or Scepter'd Isle or The Pilgrim, for instance.

I really like the name Earth Song--the idea of the earth singing roses is just so poetic and joyous. But I don't remember now if it was the rose or the name which first got my attention.

With my hostas, I do have a small Star Trek garden--hostas Captain Kirk, Vulcan, and DarkStar. Obviously those were picked for their names.

Can't remember any other names that motivated me to buy any particular plant. But I really am very adverse to ever planting those certain religious and political names.

Kate

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 1:11AM
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kittymoonbeam

There were a few that I wrote the first name for on the tag. I prefer the Snow White or Snow Fairy name to Iceberg. I also call my Lagerfeld Starlight instead. Why suffer with a bad name? Call it something else instead and enjoy it. I call my Twilight Zone Twilight and I like it much better that way.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 1:27AM
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seil zone 6b MI

I agree with you, Kitty. A lot of roses have more than one name if you check them on HMF. Pick the one you like and go with it! Because I do exhibit some I go with the approved exhibition names always. But if you don't exhibit then just pick the name you want!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 11:40AM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

What's in a name? I make up names for some of mine. I'm with Jeri though....I would never grow Ronald Reagan. Isn't that hilarious?
I recently purchased "Remember Me" and if it does well here I will likely call it "Dad's Rose".
I'm just goofy like that.
Susan

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:12PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Naming a rose after a controversial person is usually a business decision; the introducer is inviting a fraction of the public to show support for their guy by buying the rose. If it turns some people off, well, lots of people weren't going to buy that particular rose anyway.

In the US, exhibitors of modern roses have tended to be a politically conservative lot, including many retired military families. That's why J&P gave so many of their HTs patriotic and military names.

A likable name is a minor plus for me. Some names are so stupid that I'm ashamed to tell them to visitors, but that wouldn't keep me from buying a great rose. (Generally, however, the best roses aren't given controversial names.)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:41PM
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zjw727(Coastal Oregon Zone 8b)

The only thing that could make me gag and wretch more quickly than a rose called Ronald Reagan...would be a rose called NANCY Reagan. Seriously.
I'm always a sucker when it comes to "titled" roses. I do like historical associations, and I admit to being both an Anglo- and Franco-phile: Duc or Duke, Comtesse or Countess- either is fine with me.

Vavoom...Disco Dancer...no thanks ( not my color zone anyway...). However, I do grow Oklahoma, for it's gorgeous color and intoxicating scent, despite my intense distaste for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical of the same name. One DOES have to make exceptions...LOL.

I feel the same way about paint colors. "3 AM Latté"..."Magic Muffin"...No.

Zachary.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:07PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

OOOOOOOOh klahoma where the wind comes sweepin' o'er tha plains!
I love Oklahoma (the rose) too Zachary. Come on, what's not to like about fake cowboys?
That fragrance just has to be one of the best. I'm assuming you grow it own root?
Susan

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Evenie

I'll admit, if I weren't married, I would have bought Lady of Shalott despite not having the space for her. My husband would never forgive me if he couldn't get past her to get to the front door. I would just walk around to the back. I find many new roses are named particularly odd things, like they ran out of ideas some time ago or are trying to appeal to small children. I'm looking at one now on the Jackson and Perkins called "Happy Chappy". I'm not sure what to think about that.

Evenie

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:30PM
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Evenie

I'll admit, if I weren't married, I would have bought Lady of Shalott despite not having the space for her. My husband would never forgive me if he couldn't get past her to get to the front door. I would just walk around to the back. I find many new roses are named particularly odd things, like they ran out of ideas some time ago or are trying to appeal to small children. I'm looking at one now on the Jackson and Perkins called "Happy Chappy". I'm not sure what to think about that.

Evenie

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:03PM
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zjw727(Coastal Oregon Zone 8b)

Susan...LOL! My Oklahoma is grafted, and I bought it as a large 5-gallon plant. It also violates my "I hate red hybrid teas" rule, but really...the scent, the color...I love it! And even if the flowers don't always fully open here, they don't really ball either: they just look like beautiful black-red velvet cabbages!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:42PM
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bethnorcal9

Wow must be a lot of liberals here. I have RONALD REAGAN, not necessarily because of the name, but because it's a beautiful red and white rose. I try not to judge a rose based on its name. I have several controversial, political, and celebrity named roses, some of whose namesakes I don't particularly care for, but happen to like the rose. I have NANCY REAGAN (a lovely apricot), ROSALYN CARTER (a beautiful red-orange), JFK, PRESIDENT HERBERT HOOVER (still hasn't bloomed yet), LADYBIRD, LADYBIRD JOHNSON (she has two named for her and both coral oranges), CESAR CHAVEZ (a beautiful red), BARBRA STREISAND (actually recently died on me and I need to replace her), ROSIE O'DONNELL (gag me - but a gorgeous red and yellow), GOLDEN SHOWERS (that one always makes me laff), HAPPY BUTT (still waiting for that first light fleshy-pink bloom! LOL) and who knows what other ones. Now I have to admit, if a rose was ever named after our current President or his wife, I would definitely draw the line there, unless they happened to be some gorgeous roses.

I also have a lot of what I call the "booze" roses. I was going to plant them all together to make it a "Booze Garden" but I ran out of places to plant new beds. LOL Those are CHAMPAGNE, CHAMPAGNER, COURVOISIER, JOHNNY WALKER, BRANDY, NOBILO'S CHARDONNAY, WHISKY MAC, CHABLIS, APERITIF, CHERRY BRANDY, MINT JULEP, OLD PORT, BURGUNDY ICEBERG, TEQUILA, TEQUILA SUNRISE ... oh heck, I can't remember them all!

Anyway, whatever the name, if the rose is appealing to me, I don't really care who or what it's called.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:15PM
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kittymoonbeam

The Nixon Library in Yorba Linda has? had? a nice collection of roses named for presidents and first ladies. It was First Lady Pat Nixon who opened the rose garden at the White House to the public. The Barbara Bush rose is a pretty flower.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 1:21PM
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lou_texas(8a N Central TX)

I would probably buy a rose named Happy Butt, but I'd draw the line at Piggly Wiggly - not that there is a rose named that. Souvenir de la Malmaison will always be SDLM to me - I don't have the patience that some names require. I'm on first name basis with all my roses - Else, Mrs BR, Mrs Dudley, Betty, Marie, Louis, Frances, etc. We don't stand on formalities. Seems more efficient to simplify - but only because I know which Marie I'm referring to when I see Marie Daly or Marie Pavie.

I wouldn't buy a rose named Obama or Hussein, but I used to have John F Kennedy - a beautiful white. I could like a Beverly Sills, but never a Cher. I might be tempted to gag and retch on that one. I would not buy an Elvis - hate the name, love the voice. I'd definitely buy a Ronald Reagan (I liked the way he and Tip O'Neill could be friends even though they were opposites on politics), but I might buy an orange rose before I'd buy a Nancy Reagan. No orange or red orange or orangy yellows for me. Lou

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

I am really sensitive to names. I agree about Ronald Reagan. I would not plant it. I must admit i wasn't thrilled about Pope Pius II, but it's such a great rose.
Susan I have to tell you about Remember Me. It was the rose that a charming man, Dick Balfour, always put in his buttonhole. I'd like to plant it just because of him. I met him once in London and he was so sweet and gracious. Most of my seedlings are named after people that I love.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 5:43PM
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kittymoonbeam

If I remember right, Mr. Boerner who created the JFK rose wanted it to be named for him after he passed away but the people at Jackson and Perkins loved it and named it for the President instead. I think that's sad and he should have had his wish granted.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 5:35PM
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rosybunny

I will never plant Erotik(c)a in my garden, not even if someone offers it for free. I also try to avoid names like Ronald/Nancy Reg@n, Barbara B*sh, xxxx R0thchild, xxx R0ckerfeller, etc., etc. (thank God no one has named any roses with the Clint0n's names)

If I need to have a rose but don't like the name, I would call it by a different name, for instance I bought an Eiffel Tower, it became and will always be Pink Tower to me. If I ever buy a "Liv Tyler" it'll be Comtess de Provence to me. Unfortunately I will also need a Chrysler Imperial which doesn't have any alias, bummer, I will have to try to come up with a different name for it.

Come to think of it, ISN'T IT STRANGE that so many roses are named after politicians (even their wives!) and yet not one popular commercial rose is dedicated to Dr. M.L.King, whom I think was one of the two greatest human beings in the last century??? (Of course Mahatma Gandhi was the other one and there is a rose named "Gandhi")

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 12:08AM
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amberroses(10a)

A rose named after a person I didn't particularly care for would never stop me from buying and admiring the rose. Likewise a nice rose with a stupid name would just make me chuckle.

On the other hand, a really great rose name or a rose named after a person I admire would make me like a rose more. I'm a little shallow that way.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 11:09AM
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jacqueline9CA

My favorite rose names are translations from the Chinese - "Tipsy Imperial Concubine", and "White Pearl in Red Dragon's Mouth" - they are so evocative, and make you look at the roses in an entirely different light.

Jackie

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 4:31PM
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monarda_gw

I have to confess I bought Pergolèse for the name because I love the composer, though I did see it growing in a botanic garden before making the purchase. I bought Charles Darwin sight unseen (except in pictures), and the name plays a part in my deciding to keep it, everything else being equal. To me the name is yet another enhancement of perception and enjoyment, and if it is evocative and has historical associations, so much the better. Flowers can be both admired for themselves and also open a door to contemplation.

People, plants, and pets, I feel, should have names that are not degrading. I am not offended by roses named after people from the more or less distant past, such as Cardinal Richelieu, or Napoleon -- though perhaps I might not have liked it if I were a contemporary of those figures. Herbert Hoover, Napoleon, and Heathcliff (a fictional bad guy) are fine with me -- Ronald Regan -- not so much.

David Austin, I think, has been a marketing genius in his choice of names, with the exception of two roses named for characters from Thomas Hardy's novels, which clearly neither he nor his marketers have bothered to read.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 8:27PM
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amberroses(10a)

Do you mean Tess of the d'Urbervilles? What's wrong with Tess? I guess I like my fictional characters a little complex. I don't really see Heathcliff as a bad guy either. They can't name all the roses Pollyanna. I do think Pollyanna would make a good name for rose though. Maybe a cute yellow rose. Tess and Heathcliff are darkish red roses and probably named to evoke a melancholy feeling.

I guess rose names break down into categories:

1. Real people alive: Most controversial

2. Real people deceased: Less controversial the longer they've been dead

3. Literary and other fictional references

4. Places (foreign and domestic)

5. Commercial names: Sound better if they last long enough to become nostalgic. Chrysler Imperial

6. Color or Scent descriptive names: Pink promise, etc...

7. Snazzy names: Ch-ching! Knockout! Dee-lish!

8. Memorial or Social Cause Roses: A portion of your purchase price goes to support ___.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 9:25PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

I think Monarda refers to Jude the Obscure, for one. It's an odd name choice for a rose. Diane

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 2:29AM
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amberroses(10a)

I confess I haven't read Jude the Obscure.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 9:13AM
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monarda_gw

Jude the Obscure is about a modern-day Job who suffers every indignity, including murder suicide of his five children and the desertion of his wife, who becomes a religious fanatic (it is based on Ibsen's The Master Builder). Don't get me wrong, it's a great novel, and great social criticism, but seems strange choice for that rose.

Heathcliff is a darkly handsome romantic villain who is "beyond good and evil" and kills puppies. Arguably, he is bad because ill treated as a child. Also, the book is not really a tragedy like Jude, since it has a hopeful ending. Heathcliff seems more ok as a rose name.

I don't get why Tess (a milkmaid) or Mayor of Casterbridge were chosen for those particular roses, though the effect is not as jarring to me as that of Jude the Obscure. But all in all, to me the Hardy names just don't strike me as very thoughtful, that's all.

Naming the roses for Chaucer's Pilgrims, on the other hand, was inspired. (I have "The Nun", as a small band. It's one I got duplicates of, and a good thing, since one of them is really struggling, though it seems to be making a comeback. Not that I really need two.)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 11:03AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Back in the day, breeders would name roses after noble persons (with permission) in order to attach some of that person's social prestige to the rose. But wealthy non-noble persons would pay breeders to name roses after themselves, perhaps as a way of competing for prestige. Several of the most famous OGR are named after banker's wives.

I like the Austin names where he uses a phrase from a literary text with the character's name: Pretty Jessica, Admired Miranda. But one of those has an unfortunate context: "Young Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime."

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 3:40PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Yes, Young Lycidas, Milton's elegy on a dead youth. I'd forgotten about my Milton studies in college until this rose popped up. I just hope my Young Lycidas doesn't die in his youth. What an odd name for a rose. Diane

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 8:53PM
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