As many of you know at this season I tend to become an obsessive gardener and because I am currently teach a course on spirituality and gardening for a local church this has become even more of a passion for me. So I thought this week I would share some of my favourite garden stories and reflections.
The Peace rose is one of my all time favourite flowers, and even more so because of the history that goes with it. I frist read about this rose in the book For Love of A Rose, and immediately fell in love with it.
It was developed by French horticulturist Frances Meilland in the years 1935 to 1939. When Meilland foresaw the German invasion of France he sent cuttings to friends in Italy, Turkey, Germany, and the United States to protect the new rose. It is said, by some that it was sent to the US on the last plane available before the German invasion. Others think that it was smuggled out by the French resistance. In the U.S. it was safely propagated by the Conrad Pyle Company during the war. In early 1945 Meilland wrote to Field Marshal Alan Brooke, principal author of the master strategy that won World War II, to thank him for his key part in the liberation of France and to ask if Brooke would give his name to the rose. Brooke declined saying that his name would soon be forgotten and a much better and more enduring name would be “Peace”.
His words were prophetic. The naming of the rose as ‘PEACE’ was publicly announced in America by Robert Pyle on April 29, 1945 , the day Berlin fell, officially considered the end of World WarII in Europe. The next showing of the Peace rose came on V-E Day, May 8, 1945. At the very first United Nations Conference in San Francisco, a Peace rose with the message: “We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace”, was presented to all 49 U.N. delegates.
August of 1945 came the announcement that the Peace rose was the winner of the All-American Rose Selections Award of Honor. Simultaneously, the war ended in Japan.
Another memorable occasion came in 1951 when the American Rose Society made the Peace rose the first rose to receive its Gold Medal Award. This award corresponded with the signing of the treaty of peace with Japan.
Peter Beales, English rose grower and expert, said in his book Roses: “‘Peace’, without doubt, is the finest Hybrid Tea ever raised and it will remain a standard variety forever”. It is still the most popular rose in the world.
So go and plant a Peace rose, or better still plant some peace in God’s garden. God desires peace in our world and I think that the history of this rose shows that. I always have a peace rose in my garden. its fragrance reminds me constantly of God’s dream of peace and the efforts God makes to ensure it continues to thrive.