October 2022 – President’s Message

The White Rose

John Boyle O’Reilly – 1844-1890

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.


In his poem “White Rose,” John Boyle O’Reilly uses the language of colors when describing love. Even though passion is an essential part of love, purity of love matters most to O’Reilly because it comes with a message of innocence, loyalty, compassion, sincerity, and youthfulness. No wonder it’s the color of choice for many young brides. 

White flowers in the garden create a restful, soothing atmosphere with a green leaf backdrop. Nothing suggests elegance and calm like the white rose. Here are two of my favorite white roses: Rosa ‘Madam Hardy’,  a single bloomer bred in 1831 with soft unfolding petals of the purest white accented by the green pip in the center. Not only is it a beautiful centifolia damask rose, but it also has an intoxicating fragrance with a hint of lemon scent. The famed hybridizer, Dr. David Lammerts, calls Madame Hardy “the most beautiful white rose in existence.” Rated 8.8 by ARS.

Rosa ‘Desdemona’ is my second favorite white rose.  It is a gorgeous delicate old rose with goblet-shaped blooms of the palest pink. A David Austin shrub rose with a bud that starts blush/peach in color and quickly turns white once the flowers open. It was first introduced to the public at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2015.  It has a strong Old Rose fragrance with hints of almond blossom, cucumber, and lemon zest. It blooms continuously from early summer to late fall and is disease resistant. It is another winner. 

Whatever your favorite color of roses, there is a unique rose for everyone with a hidden meaning, making a rose even more alluring and magical.  

Stuart Dalton and I attended the NCNH District Meeting on Saturday, September 24th, in Vallejo. Being in an auditorium filled with passionate rose lovers was invigorating. The meeting is open to all PRS members, and I encourage you to attend next year.  Stuart announced at the meeting that PRS will be holding its 2023 Annual Rose Show on May 7th. Stuart also worked the crowd to recruit judges for next year. Many thanks, Stu!!! The Peninsula Rose Society welcomes comments or suggestions at [email protected]. Take good care, and don’t forget to smell roses.