Oft repeated in our industry, though probably not investigated enough, is the quizzical exclamation "What's in a name?" In this case I am dumbfounded, as this rose, which is a brilliant, bold yellow, would have been better suited to the name of fellow painter "Van Gogh". Could it be that the breeder Alain Meilland was intoxicated by Lautrec's prints of the dancers at the Moulin Rouge, especially the one illustrated here, or could it be a tribute to the sun of Southern France, whence Lautrec was originally from? Who knows? And why do I frequently associate the most fecund flowers with burlesque dancers?
Certainly, there is something rather alluring in flowers like the classic peonies and the masterpiece garden roses, in their demeanour and above all their disposition when they are most mature.
Perhaps the rose is a tribute to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's broad appetites and epicurean tastes, not to mention being a rather auspicious mixologist, almost a century before the word was created. His most lethal concoction was one he called "The Earthquake", and if it doesn't move the ground you walk on, it will most certainly have your skull spinning on your spine! Take four parts Absinthe, two parts red wine and add a splash of cognac! And, please, no ice. It is no coincidence that Toulouse-Lautrec died at the tender age of just 36 years.
This garden rose from the House of Meilland in the Cap d'Antibes in Provence, France, is a magnificent part of the "Romantica" collection, which also features the fabulous "Yves Piaget", and continues the intoxicating legacy of it's namesake, featuring a beguiling perfume rich with the sweet notes of citrus and grape and hints of lilac. The rose develops in a magnificent way, holds it open form in a most practical fashion, and the fragrance continues to issue throughout the time the roses are in an arrangement.
Speaking for myself, and therefore not entirely objectively, this is my favorite yellow rose that is available commercially. It has a fairly organized center which resembles an old-fashioned bourbon rose with a generous amount of outer petals forming an attractive cup. While the blooms open quite rapidly, as is common with most yellow roses, the flowers tend to set when they have fully reflexed and the overall effect of these roses, simply massed in vases, is stupendous. Rich. Feminine. Exquisite. Billowing like the petticoats of a chorus line doing the "Can-Can".
OK. Now I get it.
First Image - Lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec "La Troupe de Mlle.Eglantine".
Images Two, Three & Four - Rosa "Toulouse-Lautrec" available here