The Name of the Rose: Yolande d'Aragon

At the San Francisco Rose Society's most recent annual rose show, which is open to the public every Mother's Day at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, a fellow rosarian introduced me to a treasured blossom from his garden collection. The central flower was just about fully opened, but the two lateral buds were tightly closed. Their sepals were notably long and frilled, a feature in a rose I'd not ever noticed in other roses. So, I inquired into the name. Yolande...Yolande d'Aragon.

I have been growing roses for only 13 years, but have recently become much more curious about their history and lore. Intrigued, I asked my fellow rose afficionado who Yolande was, knowing full well that my compatriot was also a fan of history. And so the journey began.

Yolande D'Aragon lived during the tumultuous 100 Years War in a part of Spain called Aragon, which is located at the northeast corner, bordering the Pyrennees Mountains at the southwestern border of France. Yolande was also known as the Duchess of Anjou. She was related to Charles V, King of France, through her mother, who was his niece, and was the granddaughter of King John II of France. Yolande's future son-in-law, Charles Ponthieu, was the third son of Charles VI, the current, reigning King of France. During this crucial time in French history, the English were making headway into French territory and had just won the Battle at Agincourt, a town directly across the English Channel. Even more critical, civil war was being waged in France, concurrent with the battle against the invading English. The native turmoil threatened the French monarchy even more since Burgundy, one of the warring duchies, was strategically and militarily allied with the English. Consequently, Yolande, her children, and the young prince Charles Ponthieu left Aragon and moved to Provence, in the southeastern part of France, away from the strife.

Subsequently, into this story entered Joan of Arc. She was a passionate and fervent mystic, as well as a partisan, and held the throne in high esteem. Yolande heard of the reports of extraordinary visions and spiritual messages that Jeanne D'Arc had received about her own role in winning the war for the French people. Knowing that the monarchy had very little left to lose, Yolande summoned Jeanne D'Arc and financed a campaign for Jeanne to ride with a military guard across France to assist Charles Ponthieu at the battle lines. With Jeanne's guidance, the British were routed from France and the monarchy was restored.

In 1816, after a tour of duty in the Napoleonic Wars, a young veteran by the name of Jean Pierre Vibert, opened a hardware store close to the rose farm of Empress Josephine's favorite rose hybridizer, Andre Dupont, and soon began hybridizing roses himself. Jacques-Louis Descemet, another famous rose hybridizer at that time, had been forced to abandon his rose nursery when the British invaded Waterloo, in the Netherlands. Vibert took on all of Descemet's stock and over time moved his own farm to the southern part of France.

Vibert hybridized many different types of roses, spanning all of the known roses at the time. He was also a fervent loyalist to France and held Napoleon in highest esteem; thus, the name Yolande d'Aragon was granted to one of Vibert's hybridized roses, in honor of her loyalty to the French monarchy. Yolande d'Aragon, a remondant hybrid perpetual, was introduced to the public in 1843.

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