When you buy a bouquet of roses from the florist or a rose from your nursery, you are far from realizing the work and especially the time that this superb flower required. Matthias Meilland, tells us more about the know-how of the Meilland family, rose breeder since 1875.
What is the process for creating a rose?
It's a bit like with us: we choose a variety of "papa" roses and a variety of "mom" roses and we deposit the papen's pollen on the mom's pistil during the spring in order to obtain a fruit that will contain from zero to nine seeds. And like us, each individual in the siblings will be different even if they come from the same cross. The crossing takes place the first year and the second the seed, germinated, will show us its first flowers. From there, it is the selection work that begins, with a testing of the new varieties that we will test on all continents and at different latitudes. It will take 8 to 12 years depending on whether it is a plant for cut flowers or for gardens. Then, twice a year, we meet with all our international agents in charge of selection to talk about the different varieties and choose the ones that we will develop and the one that we must eliminate out of the thousands of new varieties that we create each year ... Per year, we can count about 10 varieties that we market after ten years of selection. This year, we are selecting the roses that you will discover in 10 years.
What is a beautiful rose for you?
For me, there is no beautiful rose because it depends on tastes. Me, I like roses which have stories like Mrs. A. Meilland who was in 1945 on the table of the delegates of the first meeting of the united nations or Pierre de Ronsard, saved from selection by our German agent in the 80s But in professional terms, we seek above all the character of novelty, beauty and above all resistance to present the best to the public each year.
Why did you choose to offer your services to individuals? Is the job different?
We have already worked several times in our history with individuals who have called on us to select a rose that will bear their name. In this case, we invite them to come with us to choose the rose that will suit them in our fields as we do with the prestigious personalities to whom we offer the roses like the Princess Grace of Monaco or popular personalities like Louis de Funès. But the work is always the same because it is rare for customers to want to take part in the creation process because, as we said, you have to wait 8 to 12 years and therefore be very patient.
Could you present your latest private creation, the rose "Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion"?
It is a magnificent white rose bordered with pink, and slightly perfumed. After having dedicated the grand cru "Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion" to their three daughters, Christine and Philippe Gervoson, the owners of Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, wished to offer them a rose under the same name, being entirely devoted to them. But as I like the varieties which have a beautiful history, I am happy that it is visible only in this superb property. This unique creation also marks the beginning of a saga to come to the Château. Indeed, the property, future rose garden, will subsequently welcome new rose collections from 2014.
Finally, where can we see the most beautiful roses?
It all depends on what you like! If you want to see roses that do not yet exist, you will not find them anywhere but with us. But if you want to see the history of roses, there are very beautiful gardens in France like L'Haÿ-les-Roses in Val-de-Marne where you will find magnificent old roses in spring. But, I love to walk in the Parc de la Tête d'Or in Lyon, in Bagatelle in Paris where all the neat rose gardens are always interesting and where we find the most beautiful varieties of breeders from around the world. Our practical gardening videos