The Rosarian Library

A collection of books and other resources

dedicated to the rose


By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Feb 7 2019 02:17PM

At last my books and I have a new home! When I wrote my last blog/article in August last year I did not realise it would be six months before my next. It is great to be back 'at the drawing board' so to speak.

Part of the new library (note the rose tiles on the fireplace!).

The move fromone house and county to another has been a logistical challenge but one that seems to be working out well. At least the books do not seem to have suffered from a month or two of storage and during their sojourn they acquired one or two other companions as a result of their owner suffering from withdrawal symptoms!

More of the library (I already need to tidy it, it would appear).

It has been a challenge but a privilege to be able to build, with the help of a few good artisans, a small bespoke library for the majority of the rose books and a great study where I have located the older precious books and all the paper ephemera such as catalogues and articles that this collector has amassed. I would say I started from a blank canvas but the canvas wasn't particularly blank with a 1980's fireplace (in an Edwardian house!) and carpets and curtains to match.

Out with the old. . . . . . . . .sorry, someone loved you.

At one point I thought it would never happen and just when the end was in sight the boxes arrived! Wow - I could hardly move but it never seems to amaze me how quickly circumstances can change, especially when you have a couple of family members with strength and spirit and a huge amount of positivity. Hard work and sheer determination to see it through made us fitter and me wiser. Never again!

The study will have a number of paintings.

With this story unfolding I needed to use the time profitably so a fair amount of time was spent reading and researching, also searching for rose books I did not have. I must have acquired 20 or so to add to the shelves; a number through but also one or two from second hand book shops which I love to visit.

Many of the French and older books are going in the dresser.

The total number of unique books, dedicated solely to roses, on The Rosarian Library shelves now stands at 580. If I counted duplicates, triplicates and so on there would be well over 1000. As I have had the time I have been through the list of titles quite rigorously deleting any repetitions or catalogues and articles that have crept in. The number of titles dedicated to the rose I currently believe to be 962 but, of course, I cannot have found them all so I would still like 'to hedge my bets' and suggest it may be nearer the thousand mark.

I realise that as a result of the research I have been doing I have collected many books on rose related topics such as the history of gardening, rosarians and gardeners, art and artists, the history and nature of books as well as many books with sections on roses. I love them all so have filled all my old book shelves with these. They reside in the studio on the first floor.

It didn't take long to fill these!

I don't expect one can go through such a radical move without any traumas at all but I have had only one, namely British Telecom. In their efforts to keep me very secure I have been unable to use my email address so have had to change it, which has meant changing it on my website too. If you have tried to contact me through my previous email address I am sorry for my lack of response. Please go through the contact page on my website.

In my element - surrounded by beautiful books.

Please keep the requests for research coming in. I love to deviate from my own research in which I invariably get bogged down!

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Aug 17 2018 12:36PM

Edme-Henry Jacotot could not have been more proud when the Societe d'Horticulture de la Cote d'Or proclaimed that the strong and beautiful Tea Rose that he had created had captured their exhibition's top prize. The large translucent blooms of rose, salmon and yellow mesmerized the eyes of the jury and the scent in the air thrilled their noses with a unique and powerful fragrance. There was no question that this new rose would be named 'Gloire de Dijon' in honour of the town where it was born.

'Gloire de Dijon' taken from 'The Amateur Gardener's ROSE BOOK' Hoffmann J. (1905)

The year was 1853 when this little known nurseryman from the rose growing area of Dijon in Burgundy, France ventured forth to exhibit the very first rose that he had bred himself. He did not know for sure who its parents were. He was pretty certain that the pollen came from a Bourbon Rose 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' but he only thought the receiving parent was 'Desprez a Fleur Jaune', a Noisette Rose, which gave his glorious new rose the characteristics of the climbing Noisettes. Although it was a climbing Tea Rose it would often be classified as a Noisette.

'Gloire de Dijon' Wills cigarette card No. 32 (1912)

'Gloire de Dijon' was one of many roses bred in France and sold to British nurseries but once here it began to make a name for itself in the newly designed catalogues dedicated solely to roses. The catalogues and books of Paul, Rivers, Cant and Cranston, to name but a few, exclaimed the virtues which appealed to the innovative and growing numbers of gardeners in Victorian Britain. This glorious rose became very popular with a climbing habit, a vigorous nature and beautiful blooms that were an unusual buff yellow tinged with a touch of salmon in the centre and which had a strong and enticing fragrance.

Taken from 'The Rose Book' Thomas H.H. (1913) P. 49

Throughout the literature of the second half of the century there seems to be no other rose to rival 'Gloire de Dijon's existence. Recommended for garden walls, for growing in pots, for forcing and for exhibition it was included in the lists of the finest roses and did not seem to lose ground as other varieties came and went. Championed by nurserymen, writers and laymen alike it found favour with Dean Reynolds Hole, perhaps the most influential rosarian at this time. He declared this rose to be

the best climbing rose with which he was acquainted and suggested that although classed with the Tea-scented China Roses it more closely resembled the Noisette family in robust growth and constitution.

Gloire de Dijon (taken from 'Les Roses' Jamain and Forney (1873)

'Gloire de Dijon' made it to the twentieth century unscathed in reputation. Gertrude Jekyll in 'Roses for English Gardens' 1901 included it in her list of best roses and believed it to be the most free flowering of all climbing roses and suggested that for general usefulness there was no equal. Little did Edme-Henry Jacotot know that his one and only glorious new rose variety would become so embedded in the gardens of Britain and that it would survive there for over a century. It certainly seems that Edme-Henry Jacotot deserved that accolade in 1853.

Taken from an old French text of 'Rare Roses' . Author and date unknown.

". . . . and if ever, for some heinous crime, I was miserably sentenced, for the rest of my life, to possess but a single Rose-tree, I should desire to be supplied, on leaving the dock, with a strong plant of Gloire de Dijon".

S. Reynolds Hole. 'A Book about Roses' Ch.8 P.113

(Gloire de Dijon is listed in many of the rose catalogues we have today. It may not be the strongest and best of all climbers as other more modern varieties have, as one would expect, surpassed it in this respect. It, however, remains I believe at the top of the list for unusual colour and fragrance.)

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Aug 3 2018 10:19AM

Wow! Three articles about the library published in as many months. The Rosarian Library is reaching a wider public! I am thrilled as I know, for the rosarian, it is a great resource and for me personally it is rewarding to see the library grow and its many books providing information for people with an amazing range of projects.

The first article appeared in the February 2018 'Rose Society UK' Newsletter, the second in the Spring 2018 'Historic Roses Group Journal' and the third in the July issue of 'Gardens Illustrated' all of which I enjoy reading myself. I would like to thank the editors of these three publications for recognising that the theory behind the pratice is worthy of promotion and for including The Rosarian Library among their pages..

An organisation promoting the rose across the UK.

I hope that many rose enthusiasts enjoyed the articles and appreciate the great diversity of subject matter that can be contained in the books about one particular flower. I know most rose enthusiasts prefer growing roses rather than reading about them but I do think that many of the books that have been published in the UK since that very first one in 1799 can enhance our love and appreciation of The Rose.

My great love is for the 19th century rose books which I still find inspirational and informative today. In my research into 19th century rose literature including not just books but catalogues, periodicals, articles and pamphlets I am pleased to discover that other like minded people have gone before me and have left behind articles about rose literature that are useful for my own research. I hope that I can build on these by gathering further information that will be useful to the researchers of the future.

Articles which I have found useful include:

Arthur William Paul 'The Literature of The Rose' The Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society (1913-1914) Vol.39.

Mrs H.R. Darlington 'Rose Literature of the Past Fifty Years' The Rose Annual of the National Rose Society 1926 (pp. 79 - 101).

Theo Mayer 'Victorian Rose Literature' The rose Annual of The Royal National Rose Society 1970 (pp. 139 - 170).

The journal of The Historic Roses Group, an organisation promoting timeless roses.

Then, of course, there are those dedicated individuals who have collated all books and articles into Bibliographies. These are incredibly useful when researching book titles, authors, publishers, dates etc as much of the tedious work has been done for you. A concern is that the most recently published bibliography of Rose Books, that I know of, only collates books written before 1984. I hope there is an entreprising person who is taking on the challenge for the last 30 years and as we go forward.

The work of the library flourishes and the books increase in number. Books dedicated solely to the rose are the main focus but the gardening books with some rose information and those discussing garden history I find difficult to ignore, especially the older ones. My research about 19th century rose literature is slowly coming together but still has a fair way to go. I am always pleased to put my personal research aside for various projects that come in. Other peoples research seems so much more interesting than mine. Perhaps because I usually know little about the subject and have to use the Rosarian Library literature to find out, which is 'the object of the exercise', of course.

One of the nations favourite Gardening Magazines.

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, May 29 2018 02:47PM

Not far from where I live, in a little market town, there is a shop/gallery for sale with plenty of living accommodation and a garden too. Regardless of financial issues am I courageous enough and do I have sufficient energy to open a long dreamed about museum?

A painting of Jules Gravereaux which was hung in his museum.

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Mar 26 2018 10:57AM

Two dilemmas have been niggling at me and I possibly have two apologies to make. The first to John Harkness (1857-1933) for omitting his work from my review of C19th Rose Literature and the second to Miss Mary Lawrance/Lawrence (Died 1831) for the misspelling of her name in my review and other research I have done.

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Jan 20 2018 04:52PM

I have had printed recently an article entitled 'Nineteenth Century British Rose Literature; a brief discourse on the 19th century literature, written in Britain, that is dedicated solely to the Rose.'

This is the first of a series of articles exploring the nature of 19th century Rose Literature. Further articles will include, through a study of the literature, The Growth in the Popularity of Roses, the Development of Rose Varieties and their method of Cultivation, the Rosarians and American and European Rose Literature.

Article Cover

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Jan 3 2018 03:51PM

'The Most Comprehensive Rose Library in the World'. I wonder whether this would still be true today. This description by the Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) of their library was written regularly in their publications. This library has now been incorporated into The Rosarian Library so I am wondering whether we can still boast the world ranking. I have no reason to believe that the RNRS library lost some of its books; it is more a matter of whether other libraries have overtaken The Rosarian Library in the number and range of texts.

Annuals (1907 - 1984?) produced by the society came in a range of colours over the years.

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Sep 21 2017 01:54PM

Of the thirty-one books dedicated solely to the Rose written in Britain during the C19th the most popular, undoubtedly, was 'A Book about Roses' by the clergyman Samuel Reynolds Hole. Written in 1869 it has since had a miraculous history of new editions, impressions and reprints. Between 1869 and 1894 there were fourteen editions, some only a matter of months apart. In 'The Letters of Dean Hole' (1907 P. 141) we learn that " . . .the eleventh edition of my little Book was sold in 6 months - 3000 copies."

'A Book about Roses' First Edition 1869. (Note the green cloth and gold rose)

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Jul 18 2017 09:57AM

Is this the total number of book titles, solely about roses and printed in the English language that are sitting on our library shelves waiting to be read? I am sure there are one or two still in hiding but hopefully the majority are now discovered. (I said this a month or so ago when I listed 760 but they keep appearing when least expected!) This list does not include the many editions of the same book nor does it include all the annual publications by the various rose societies. I have included only one each of these with the date range of publication.

One of the oldest 'The Rose Amateurs's Guide' (1840) Thomas Rivers and one of the newest books in the library.

By Dr Elizabeth Perks, Jun 6 2017 11:20AM

I am reminded of this incredible Victorian artist (1836-1904) every day as Fantin Latour, the rose is blooming beautifully in my garden now at the beginning of June. I planted this old Centifolia rose not only because all the Centifolias are stunning and fragrant but because I so admire the artist and his paintings of roses. I do not know who named the rose but it is a fitting tribute to this great man.

RSS Feed

Web feed

Welcome to my blog


Welcome to my world of roses. How fortunate I am to be surrounded by the queen of flowers!


Over the years I have collected many ‘rosy’ souvenirs and am now surrounded by rosy pictures, china, fabrics and my beautiful books.


I hope you will wish to follow me on a rosy journey and contribute with your thoughts and ideas. I enjoy growing roses but I also appreciate the smell of a real rose potpourri, the glimpse of a painting of roses, the discovery of a different rose cup and saucer or piece of fabric or to see a wild rose nestling in the hedgerow.


I will share with you my rose stories and will endeavour to answer any queries you may have regarding this amazing flower.

Until then. . . .. . . .