Gardener tracks down and saves drying breed of rose | Garden | Life & Style

Gardener tracks down and saves drying breed of rose | Garden | Life & Style 827875 1

Orlando Murrin, 59, said his interest in the Mrs Miniver rose was pricked by memories of the wartime movie from which the scarlet bloom got its name.

And after learning that the rose had almost completely disappeared, he set himself the mission of tracking one down.

His quest led to correspondence with a horticulturist in Germany and eventually the former BBC Good Food editor was able to find a cutting of the elusive flower.

It is now under constant supervision at his home in Exeter, Devon and he hopes it will flourish again with the help of a local nursery.

Mr Murrin said he was thrilled as it is exactly 75 years since MGM released Mrs Miniver.

The film was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and played a major part in the war effort and won six Oscars in 1943.

In one scene a local stationmaster wins a prize at the annual flower show, for a rose named after the village heroine.

Mr Murrin said: “That year an American rose grower Jackson and Perkins jumped on the bandwagon with the introduction of a hybrid tea rose called ‘Mrs Miniver’.

“Flowers were scarlet with darker reverse, large and strongly fragrant. They appeared in flushes throughout the season, bursting from long, slender buds.

“Over the decades, the reputation of the film has dwindled and I wondered what happened to the rose.

“All I could find was a laconic mention on an American website, and a artist’s impression.

“It therefore distressed me that a rose as emblematic as ‘Mrs Miniver’ could simply have vanished.

“It disappeared from catalogues decades ago, and my only hope was that perhaps some English housewife, in her cottage garden, had kept the rose going. I set myself the challenge of tracking it down.”

In early 2014 Mr Murrin enlisted the help of Becky Hook of La Roseraie du Desert, a nursery in South West France specialising in old roses.

After years of unsuccessful searches he received a surprise letter last Autumn from one of Becky’s friends, amateur rose grower Martin Briese, offering him some plants.

Martin procured some cuttings and succeeded in propagating the rose on his roof deck.

He got in touch with Ysenda Maxtone-Graham, whose grandmother, Jan Struther, wrote the book on which the film was based to tell them about his discovery.

Mr Murrin said: “We hoped ‘Mrs Miniver’ would flower for her anniversary, and she is doing her best: we have one large, healthy bud under constant supervision.

“When she comes into bloom, the Maxtone-Grahams are going to throw a party for her.

“St Bridget Nurseries in Exeter is lined up to propagate more plants later in the season, and in a couple of years, we hope to have roses to spare for the Mrs Miniver fan club.”

Source : EXPRESS

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