Aglaïa

One of the three Graces, aka Charites. OK, what’s a Charite? I know how to use Wikipedia as well as anyone, so-  daughter of Zeus, sister of Euphrosne and Thalia. Why are they called the three Graces? Wiki fails me here- no more info on the Aglaïa page. Try the Charites link. Here’s a bit more:

“In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of several Charites: goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility. They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea (“Splendor”), Euphrosyne (“Mirth”), and Thalia (“Good Cheer”). In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the “Graces”.”

'The Three Graces' at Hearst Castle

'The Three Graces' at Hearst Castle

What I’m really getting to here is a rose story. Aglaïa, the rose, is a pale yellow hybrid multiflora, and as Aglaïa means Splendor, it was aptly named. It was created from Rosa multiflora and Rêve d’Or by someone named Schmitt in Alsace and introduced in Germany by Peter Lambert in 1896.  (Schmitt also bred the ramblers Euphrosne and Thalia). Despite being a wonderful rose, Aglaïa is mainly known as the parent of Trier (bred by Peter Lambert), the main ancestor of the hybrid musk group of roses developed by Pemberton. Being the offspring of two climbing roses, it’s not surprising that it is a rampant climber. Its foliage is completely healthy and it doesn’t have many thorns. It still amazes me that, according to helpmefind.com, it has well over 2000 descendants. Amazing because the rose is not well-known anymore, and seldom seen. In the whole of North America, only two California nurseries sell it.

Aglaia

Full bloom on my fence

So, what’s the story? A few blogs back I told the story of the Harris Flat Ayrshire. We’re going back to that general location. Barbara McCrary’s mother-in-law, Agnes McCrary, lived in a cute stone and wood cottage a couple of miles south of Harris Flat, in northern Santa Cruz County. According to Barbara, a rose came with Agnes’ family in a wagon train and was still growing on the fence in front of the house where she had lived. So, after leaving Harris Flat, Tamara, Barbara and I drove to the house. Tamara and I took one look at the rose on the fence, which wasn’t even in bloom, and said, “Dorothy Perkins”. That makes twice, for me, that someone has mixed up a pioneer rose with this ubiquitous rambler. However, we could see, closer to the creek, behind the house, a pale yellow rose climbing into a small fruit tree. At the time I didn’t recognize it, and neither did Tamara. But I took cuttings, and grew the plant, hoping it might be the Pioneer rose. There aren’t that many pale yellow multiflora hybrids to choose from, so by the time it was ready to plant, I knew it was Aglaïa. Agnes’ father and grandparents came there in the 1860s, so the Pioneer rose is definitely gone. Agnes would have been a young child when her parents acquired both Dorothy Perkins and Aglaïa, so one can’t blame her for not knowing which rose her grandparents brought in the wagon.

Aglaia

Closeup of a cluster

I planted Aglaïa and the Harris Flat Ayrshire next to each other on the fence behind our house. Neither require any effort on my part- no summer water or any fertilizer or mulch. They do require some pruning to keep them from attacking people trying to walk between the fence and the house. My real problem at the moment is that the fence post by Aglaïa has rotted and the fence leans a bit toward the neighbor’s driveway. My husband put another post a couple of feet from it and boards to tie the rotted post to the new one, but now that one is also rotting. Last year my husband tied a rope from the porch post to the newer fence post. This spring, a strong wind blew Aglaïa toward the house. This was actually good for the fence, but bad for the pathway. While the rose was in full bloom, I had to cut off enough to allow access to the rear of the house, and so it wasn’t pulling down on the rope.

View from my back door two years ago

Aglaia

View after the wind. Note the rope on the post.

BUT sooner or later we need to fix the fence! Aglaïa, now a glorious huge plant, will need a severe cutting back.

Aglaia

Another view, after the wind

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About Jill Perry

Since 2005, I have been the Curator of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, a part of Guadalupe River Parks and Gardens near downtown San Jose. I write about the Heritage Rose Garden, my garden and my travels when I feel inspired and have time. Since I have no regular schedule, if you'd like to know when I write a new article, please subscribe to this blog.
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3 Responses to Aglaïa

  1. Very nice.. lots to learn and my brain is absorbing it very slowly! So you are kind of a, Rose Rescuer, Hunter,

  2. I had a tough time finding Aglaia, but I tracked it down and got one from the Lynchburg Cemetery in Virginia. I am thrilled to have it in my garden, and I love seeing yours … can’t wait till mine is big and beautiful!

  3. Sherry Roma says:

    Jill, thank you for both the lovely rustling story and the history of Aglaia. Hybrid Multiflora has never held much interest for me since it doesn’t like my higher pH soil, but then you mentioned Reve d’Or which I do grow in my Florida garden. Knowing Aglaia’s parentage has given me a soft spot for it, but unfortunately I have no room for a rampant climber. You have also provided fair warning to all who grow them. Perhaps steel posts sunk in cement would be an appropriate investment for such a splendid rose. Thanks again. You have a magnificently beautiful rose.

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