Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
The Peace rose was the first rose plant I bought back in high school, with some of my hard-earned babysitting money. It was and still is one of my favorite roses, but sadly my original plant fell victim to my dad and his riding lawnmower. I recently purchased a new Peace rose, and learned that this rose has a history that makes me love it even more.
Development of the Peace rose began back in 1935 by Francis Meilland and his father in France. Like much of horticultural plant breeding, they really didn't have the Peace rose in mind when they did 800 rose crosses that summer. They chose plants with traits they liked, and crossed them hoping they would produce plants that combined all the good traits together, or even resulted in new good traits.
Out of the original 800 crosses, fifty were chosen for further consideration. Seedling #3-35-40, which later was named the Peace rose, was one of those fifty seedlings. The following summer, when those plants bloomed, Meilland saw the unique creamy ivory blooms with pink edges and knew he had a winner.
As World War II escalated in Europe, and Nazi invasion of France seemed imminent, Meilland contacted rose growers he knew and sent cuttings of his new rose on the last planes to leave France before the Nazis invaded.
Robert Pyle of the Conard-Pyle Company was amazed at the blooms on #3-35-40 when he propagated new plants from cuttings Meilland sent. He named the rose Peace at the Pacific Rose Society show on April 29, 1945, coincidentally, the same day Berlin fell, ending the war.
Peace revolutionized hybrid tea roses. Not only did it have unique coloring, but the level of hardiness and disease resistance was never before seen in hybrid teas. It continues to be popular today, and has been the parent of hundreds of popular hybrids, and has produced several sports, or natural mutations, that have been released as new cultivars.