by John Bagnasco

How various roses have survived to puzzle us with their quiet beauty is a question that often hides fascinating stories.

crestline mulberry rose
Photo by Tiffany Chan on Unsplash

In the 1980s, rosarian Kim Rupert belonged to the Corvair Club.

Every Valentine’s Day they would go to the club secretary’s cabin in Crestline, CA. One year, with opportunity to browse the town’s antique and junk shops, Kim noticed a rose growing beside the drive of the Mulberry Tree Antiques shop.

The shop owner said he bought the store with the rose and didn’t want it. He’d tried to scrape it off with a snow plow, salted it, dug it up and it continued to grow and flower. Kim took home rooted suckers and named it “Crestline Mulberry” in honor of the discovery location. Rupert planted the mystery rose at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, where it’s been for over thirty years.

Now, it appears that the rose’s true identity has been discovered. It appears to be identical to a hybrid perpetual rose, ‘La Reine’, bred by Jean Laffay in France in 1842. How it made its way to Crestline, CA may never be known, but it is certain that the outstanding fragrance and beauty of this rose will be cherished by gardeners for generations to come.

Note: Starter plants of ‘La Reine’ may be ordered from A Reverence For Roses at $20 ea.