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The Grab Bag

A Rose By Any Other Name
Just Wouldn't Smell As Sweet

Life may not always be a bed of roses, but a trip to the garden centre can result in a bed of McCartney Roses, as Mark Lewisohn reports.

When you're a major figure in society, honours came thick, fast and in many guises. But it's fair to say that Paul McCartney has won more than most - even his Who's Who entry, which lists only the primal conferments, has him down as a Member of the British Empire, Freeman of the City Of Liverpool and Doctor of the University of Sussex.

But one of the latest accolades bestowed upon the family name McCartney - for Paul alone is not the recipient - is among the more unusual.: a new and most gorgeous variety of rose, and the winner itself, of numerous internationa awards.

The McCartney rose, as it is named, is the creation of Selection Meilland, a French family concern which produced rose plants for sale throughout the world. Around 1981 the company began to develop a supreme Hybrid Tea rose, Passion Pink in colour, which went on to collect no fewer than 22 medals in competition. Meilland realised that as this was no ordinary rose it should bear a special name - and they don't come much more special that McCartney.

So in 1989 Meilland contacted EMI and the record company - a subsidiary , ahem, of Thorn EMI, remembere - decided it would present the rose to Paul that coming June to mark his birthday. Having such a beautiful variety so dedicated obviously impressed Paul, for he wrote in Meilland's subsequent publicity brochure -
"When I first heard that a rose had been named after me and my family I was particularly honoured. I cannot think of anything more special that having one of nature's fragrant blessings dedicated to one's own family.
"My dad was a keen gardener and I remember my mum buying him a small book on roses for his birthday. I recently found the book after many years and was pleased to see that she had signed it 'with love from Mum, Paul and Michael' (my brother).
"Nowadays I have developed my own love of things horticultural and my wife and kids join me in my excitement at this wonderful 'rosy' event.
"Long live the McCartney!
"P.S. No more 'Wars of the Roses' - don't worry about red or white - this one's pink!"

Macca Roses

[For overseas readers, the Wars of the Roses was a British civil war, 1455-1485, between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which used the red and white rose respectively as their badges - Ed]

The McCartney Rose was officially presented to the public at the Chelsea Flower Show in May 1991, at Villa de la Ville d'Antibes a month later and again soon afterwards, back in England at the Hampton Court Palace International Flower Show, since when Meilland has gone into production overdrive.

A mass propagation programme now means that The McCartney Rose is beginning to find its way into garden centres and rose catalouges in more than 40 countries, where it can be purchased by the public ready for planting. (It is avaliable only as a "garden rose", for buying as a living shrub and planting in one's garden, as opposed to a "cut rose" cultivated purely for cutting and sale through florists.)

And wherever it's seen, The McCartney Rose draws compliments. "It's a very, very good, much loved variety." comments Aline Converset of Meilland. "It has a classical fragrance, like roses used to be, and has won prizes for it's aroma as well as it's beautiful appearance. In fact, it's the most awarded rose in competitions."

The only thing is, now that it's also a rose, honour may not be the only thing heaped upon the name McCartney...

From Club Sandwich Winter 1994 Issue #72
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