Russian Historical Rose Garden at Tsarskoye Selo

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Empress Alexandra of Russia Rose. Фото: ГМЗ Царское Село

Tsarskoye Selo is currently hosting a small exhibition Russian Historical Rose Garden which features 11 outdoor display stands depicting the historical varieties of roses dedicated to the Russian empresses, members of the Imperial family, and high ranking individuals of the empire. 

The exhibit is located near the Tower Ruins in the Catherine Park. The exhibition is situated near the former Pink Field, commissioned by Catherine the Great.

Known as the “Queen of Flowers” – historically, the rose figured prominently in the lives of kings and emperors around the world. Russia was no exception. The history of the Russian Empire from the beginning of the last century before 1917 was reflected in the names of roses. In the list of “Russian” roses were the names of almost all the emperors and empresses, grand dukes and grand duchesses. They were developed primarily by French rose breeders.

Фото: ГМЗ Царское Село

The exhibit acquaints viewers with historic details written by the efforts of rose breeders and gardeners of many countries of the world.

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Nicholas I, is dedicated the White Flower Rose or Blanchefleur. It was derived by the French gardener Jean-Pierre Vieber in 1835. The variety has medium white flowers with a slight pink tinge, which have a strong sweet scent. The empress surrounded herself with beautiful silver, and porcelain vases filled with roses. Her favorite flowers were bought in huge quantities and planted in all the gardens and parks wherever the Empress was in residence.

Catherine the Great’s love for roses is an historical fact. Being a native of the part of the world where this flower was elevated to the status of a cult, she paid tribute to it in her new homeland. It was during the reign of Catherine II that the Pink Field appeared in the Catherine Park of Tsarskoe Selo – a huge rose garden stretching over several hectares. Her collection was constantly replenished from Denmark, Holland, Germany, and France. New varieties were introduced – some of which were planted in the Pink Field during the summer, others planted in greenhouses for the winter.

For Catherine II, is dedicated the Catherine II Rose. It was derived by the French gardener Jean Laffey, who developed this variety in 1826, during the reign of the Alexander I, grandson of the Empress. The flowers are small to medium in size, have a very strong scent, the bush does not exceed 50 cm in height, blossoms only once in early summer. The variety has been preserved in many European collector’s rosaries to this day.

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The former Pink Field of Empress Catherine II, as it looks today

Visitors can also learn about the breeding of certain varieties of roses inspired by the breeders of the Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Alexander III), Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas II), Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna and other members of the Russian Imperial family.

The exhibition was prepared based on the materials of the landscape architect of the Alupka Palace and Park Museum-Reserve of Utah Arbatskaya with the participation of students from the International School of Design (St. Petersburg). 

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 4 July 2018