Just in time for the New Year, the lovely China rose ‘Comtesse du Cayla’ is still blooming in member Mary’s garden. It was named in memory of Zoé Victoire, Comtesse du Cayla, friend, confidante and last favourite of the French King Louis XVIII in his final years. Charming, astute, and well connected, she became politically influential, effectively controlling access to the elderly king, who showered her with many gifts, including the rebuilt Chateau de Saint Ouen and all its contents.
Half a century after her death the rose was introduced by French rose breeder Pierre Guillot in 1902. His father, Jean-Baptiste André Guillot, had bred ‘Ma Paquerette’, the first dwarf repeat-flowering hybrid polyantha, introduced in 1857, and in 1867 introduced the celebrated ‘La France’, considered to be the first Hybrid Tea. The firm was founded in 1829 and today is a member of the World Federation of Rose Societies’ Breeders Club.