In the corner of my garden where it helps greet guests, the dwarf Polyantha and obvious relative 'Marie Pavie' is rarely without a flower, even in partial shade. Because 'Marie Pavie' is similar in coloring, gardeners refer to it as the round-budded Cecile Brunner, and it carries a date of 1888. Clusters of little white flowers tinged faintly with pink bend over shiny leaves and compose the most graceful bush in my collection. One seedling from the pale-pink 'Marie Pavie,' cross-pollinated with the little dark-red-flowered 'Tom Thumb,' was named 'Katharina Zeimet.' This offspring, introduced in 1901, is a small, white-flowered Polyantha.
The second era of modern miniatures is represented by 'Rosmarin,' dated 1965 and the first to be classed as a miniature rose. 'Rosmarin' is also a progeny of 'Tom Thumb,' crossed at a later date by breeder Reiner Kordes with 'Dacapo,' a Floribunda. The bush is plucky-looking, three-feet tall, upright and densely branched. The small white flowers have a deep pink tinge, and during winter there always seems to be one bloom for a nosegay. Although 'Rosmarin' ends my collection of old miniature roses, I prefer to think of it as the beginning of the newer introductions.
But there is a pretender in my bouquet. 'Sweet Chariot,' which I received from garden editor Bob Smaus, seems to belong there with the old-fashioned flower forms. What is it? I wonder. With those tones of deep lavender, could there be gallica in its history? The doubled petals and heady scent hint at centifolias; their perfume, prized from history, fills my room. The branches, shooting up from under the ground, remind me of gallicas, but they open out like Polyanthas and have their shiny green leaves.