Hi @TheMontyDon. I was thrilled to see you extol the prickly virtues of the 'Madame Caroline Testout' climbing rose. Caroline Testout was my great-great-great-grandmother: here she is, formidable and not entirely lovable. Brief thread...
Caroline Testout was a couturière from Grenoble, with salons in Paris and London. She had an eye for publicity & persuaded the celebrated nurseryman Joseph Pernet-Ducher (‘ The Wizard of Lyons’) to name a new variety of rose after her. He had a good sense of her character...
...because family lore recounts that she was a fierce and prickly woman - exactly like the rose's savage stem. Her son, for instance, was unable to marry until after she died, as she refused him her consent/terrified potential brides.
I don't know what the rose did for my ancestor's business, but I do know that the bush variety was a huge hit. Nearly half a million bushes were planted along the sidewalks of Portland, Oregon. Caroline Testout died in 1893, 8 years before the climbing form of the rose appeared.
Having made the name of a prickly customer famous, Joseph Pernet-Ducher tried to repeat the success with another cultivar, 'Madame Pernet-Ducher’. It was a flop, and his wife's name, and his, are all but forgotten. Meanwhile, this hard stare wins out.
Anyway, thanks for plugging this beautiful and painful rose variety. For years my parents kept one, in honour of MCT, trained against the wall of their house. And for years it drew its tribute of family blood.
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