The Rose Festival in Malmaison

In the spring of 1799, a long-abandoned castle in the countryside of Paris, France, welcomed its new owner. This is Malmaison, the country house of Napoleon I, the first emperor of France and his first wife, Queen Josephine.

Josephine was born in 1763 in Martinique, a French possession in the West Indies. Her first husband, Viscount Boarnet, was killed in the French Revolution. In 1796, a 27-year-old young military officer Napoleon Bonaparte married 33-year-old Josephine. Napoleon spent most of his life at war. In order to relieve his loneliness, Josephine bought Malmaison.

In November of this year, Napoleon returned to Paris, launched the “Fog Moon Coup” and assumed the first power of the First French Republic. In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself in Notre Dame de Paris and became the emperor of the French Empire (known as the first French empire in history), and Josephine became the queen.

Although life in Paris is staggeringly extravagant, Josephine has a garden feeling cultivated in a tropical plantation since he was a child. She invited the best designer at the time, built a house, and continued to increase the variety of plants in the garden, and finally built a charming rural garden. The interior decoration of Malmaison is rich and elegant without losing warmth; the garden is decorated with exotic flowers and plants from South America, and various rare birds and animals including African gazelles are cultivated; the greenhouse is planted from Josephine’s hometown , Tropical plants from faraway Martinique. In the early days of Napoleon’s reign, the couple spent many weekends here. A personal assistant of Napoleon once recalled, “Except on the battlefield of victory, I have never seen His Majesty the Emperor so happy as in the rose garden.”

This rose garden, which can relax Napoleon’s body and mind, is also particularly famous in the history of horticulture in the world, because a good story in the history of rose cultivation occurred here.

European Rose: Love and Imperfection

Today, rose is almost synonymous with love, but in the history of Western culture, it has been loaded with multiple meanings.

In Greek mythology, when Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was born in the sea, the foam on her body turned into beautiful white roses. And when he learned that his beloved young Adonis was injured by a wild boar, the desperate goddess ran away, and was stabbed in the feet by a rose, and blood splashed on the flower. The white rose was dyed into a red rose.

Since then, the rose symbolizing fierce love has frequently appeared in European stories, poems and paintings in the Middle Ages. The masterpiece of the 13th-century knight literature “Legend of Roses” once compared the girl whom the knight loved to a delicate rosebud, “It is bright in color / pure, dazzling red / can be called the best in the world /… it exudes a fragrance /All around me/When I smell this scent/I never want to stay away.”

Roses also play an important role in Christianity. Since about the 4th century, the white rose has become a symbol of the pure Virgin Mary; and many solemn religious ceremonies will use a large number of red rose petals, because it symbolizes the blood shed when Jesus was crucified and suffered.

In medieval Europe, the rose was also associated with war. In Shakespeare’s play “Henry VI”, representatives of the Lancaster family and the York family picked a red rose and a white rose in the garden respectively to express the opposition of views. Since then, the two sides have embarked on a 30-year battle. The battle of position, this war is called the “War of the Roses”. The war finally ended with the reconciliation and marriage of the two families. Later, the new dynasty used roses as its national flower and red and white roses as its emblem.

Corresponding to the repeated chanting of roses in cultural history, Europeans also cultivated roses very early. It is generally believed that the original western rose has three types: French rose, Phoenician rose, and Musk rose. They were repeatedly hybridized. By the time of Queen Josephine’s life, that is, at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, they had bred many types. The rose is a famous product, and its function classification is relatively clear. There are not only those used for garden viewing, but also those used for refining essential oils and making jams. However, for avid rose fans, these varieties, especially ornamental roses, still have some shortcomings that make them difficult to let go. The most important point is that most European roses only bloom once a year.

Queen Josephine is also a rose madman. Since setting up a rose garden in Malmaison, she has tried every means to collect rose varieties. In its heyday, the First French Empire controlled most of Europe. In order to please Queen Josephine, roses from all over Europe were sent to Malmaison continuously. Josephine invited the best gardener to take care of her roses and worked hard to cultivate new varieties. In the Parisian society at that time, the roses cultivated in the Queen’s Garden were enthusiastically sought after. By the time Josephine died in 1814, the rose garden of Malmaison had about 250 varieties and 30,000 roses. Fortunately, because of the participation of a special person, we can intuitively feel the grand occasion of this rose garden today.

A year before the purchase of Malmaison, Josephine began to collaborate with the painter Pierre Joseph Redudder who was known for his hand-painted flowers at the time and was known as the “Raphael of Flowers”. For nearly 20 years after that, the painter spent most of his time painting roses in Malmaison, and finally integrated a set of atlases, which painted the beauty of 169 kinds of roses in Malmaison. Redudder is both an artist with superb painting skills and rich knowledge of botany. In Malmaison, he has the opportunity to fully communicate with rose breeders. Therefore, the roses he paints are both pure, beautiful and simple. Realism can be called the perfect combination of art and science. Later generations will call it the “Rose Bible.”

Open the “Rose Bible” and you can find almost all the famous roses that have appeared in European cultural history: the “French Rose” and “Musk Rose” that appeared very early and resemble wild flowers, and the “White Rose” which symbolizes the purity of the Virgin “, the crimson “Apothecary Rose” used for medicinal therapy, with red petals bordered with white borders, symbolizing “York and Lancaster”, the union of the two families after the “War of the Roses”. There are also some garden rose varieties that have been bred in the map, the bright red and gorgeous “Portland Rose”, the “heart-wrapped rose” wrapped in cascading petals, and the beautiful and beautiful “Queen Josephine” with flowers like her… all These roses, because of the special attention of Queen Josephine, were blooming in Malmaison more than two hundred years ago. This is really a grand gathering of roses, gathering the essence of European roses at that time; from a biological point of view, this is a rare rose gene bank, which was a great achievement in Europe and the world at that time. Even more striking is that this party also ushered in guests from the far east-Chinese rose.

“The fragrance of tea” from afar

At the end of the 18th century, Guangzhou, China. This was the only city in China that allowed “foreigners” to trade before the Opium War. Many “foreigners” who came to Guangzhou, regardless of their status as soldiers, missionaries, merchants, or sailors, did not lack the enthusiasm for searching for exotic flowers and plants in ancient China. Many traditional Chinese famous flowers, such as peony, chrysanthemum, camellia, etc., were introduced to the United Kingdom during this period, and the Chinese rose was first settled in British gardens. Roses are closely related to roses and roses, so they are also called “roses” in Britain.

From the French Revolution to Napoleon’s proclaiming emperor, Britain has organized other European countries to form an “anti-French alliance” on many occasions, and wars between Britain and France have continued. However, the flames of war could not stop Josephine from wanting to obtain the enthusiasm of the “rose” of the East. Legend has it that, because of the charm of Queen Josephine, the ship carrying roses from England caused a temporary armistice between Britain and France, and the war would continue after the ship passed.

There is a Chinese rose directly obtained by the French from China. This is the Chinese Crimson Tea Fragrant Rose. In 1809, the French obtained it from the Guangzhou Huadi Nursery and was immediately sent to Malmaison. Breeders in the rose garden have used various methods to breed new rose varieties, and it is said that artificial pollination techniques have been applied for the first time.

In Redud’s “Rose Bible”, there are more than a dozen roses whose French names contain “Rosa Indica”. They are Chinese roses, or the descendants of roses and European roses.

Curtain call and opening

In the winter when the tea rose was sent to Malmaison (December 1809), Queen Josephine in a white robe read out her divorce letter at the Tuileries Palace. The reason for the divorce was that she could not serve the Emperor. Give birth to children.

Napoleon married another Austrian princess Marie Louise as his queen, and the new queen gave birth to him in 1811.

On May 29, 1814, shortly after Napoleon abdicated for the first time and was exiled to Elba Island, Josephine died at Malmaison Castle at the age of 51. In 1815, Napoleon’s restoration failed. Before being exiled, he lived in Malmaison for a while.

More than ten years later, Josephine’s descendants sold Malmaison, and the roses in the garden also disappeared and disappeared.

In 1867, the first hybrid tea rose was born in France, named “La France”. The “French Rose”, which has the pedigree of Chinese tea rose, has only one flower on each flower stem. The diameter of the flower can reach up to 12 cm. The flowers are gorgeous, the smell is fragrant, and the stems are straight and smooth. There is no densely packed stems of European roses. The fine spines, with only a few large and obvious prickles, are especially suitable for making fresh cut flowers, and they can bloom multiple times a year.

The “rose” dreamed of by European rose fans, including Josephine, was finally born. With the “French Rose” as the symbol, the “modern rose” was officially born, and the previous rose was called the “classical rose”.