Through the years there have been many different roses named for famous people including Presidents and First Ladies, royalty, actors, singers, and humanitarians. They run the gamut from Abraham Lincoln and Freddie Mercury to Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe. An interesting variety of folks from diverse genres.
Did you know… Before the 1950s, roses named for people mostly honored royalty, relatives of the grower, and a few deceased notables. In the 1950s and 1960s, American rose growers decided that gardeners would rather have a “celebrity” rose planted in the backyard than one named after an unknown grower’s relative.
They named waves of roses after Hollywood and TV stars: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Carmen Miranda, Henry Fonda, Lucille Ball, Eva Gabor, and Ingrid Bergman … just to name a few.
Most of these roses are no longer found at your local garden center, but they may still be blooming away in someone’s garden or available online at a specialty rose breeder.
Queen Elizabeth, introduced in 1954 to honor her coronation, still sells well. The combination of royalty, hyper-celebrity, and tragedy led to a brisk scuffle over naming honors after the death of Princess Diana. Jackson & Perkins emerged as the U.S. winner with Diana, Princess of Wales, a delicate white rose touched with pale pink.
Holy smokes … a more recent trend in naming roses is to invoke a higher power. Thus the Billy Graham & Pope John Paul II were introduced. The popular pope’s rose is pure white, as was his customary attire. Jackson & Perkins also pushed for a Mother Teresa rose, but her representatives declined to have a product, even a rose, named for her.
The Julia Child rose and the Barbra Streisand rose are currently popular and very fragrant roses. I recently strolled around one of my favorite local garden centers and happened upon both of these roses, plus the Cary Grant and George Burns varieties.
Consider planting a garden of just roses named after the famous … would indeed be an interesting conversation starter!
Roses Named After Presidents and First Ladies
Abraham Lincoln has a record four roses named in his honor … two hybrid tea roses (‘Mister Lincoln’ is especially famous for its red velvety appearance and citrus scent – one of the best red, traditional roses) and two miniature moss roses. ‘General Washington’ is a vivid red rose.
Nancy and Ronald Reagan have his-and-her hybrid teas named after them. President Reagan’s is red with a silver underside, while Nancy Reagan’s rose is a peach-apricot blend. In 1986 President Reagan signed a proclamation declaring the rose our “National Floral Emblem”.
“The American people have long held a special place in their hearts for roses. Let us continue to cherish them, to honor the love and devotion they represent, and to bestow them on all we love just as God has bestowed them on us.”
The John F. Kennedy hybrid tea bears white, creamy blooms. ‘Lady Bird’ Johnson celebrates the former first lady with alternating peach and pink-coral petals on a hybrid tea.
You could create a rose garden consisting of nothing but Republican roses:
* Herbert Hoover, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Coolidge, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Taft
* Only three Democratic presidents have roses named for them – Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy
Did You Know … The White House Rose Garden was established in 1913 by Ellen Loise Axson Wilson, Woodrow Wilson’s wife.
As for First Ladies, there are roses for Pat Nixon, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, and Barbara Bush … but an odd omission is Jacqueline Kennedy, she oversaw the redesign of the White House Rose Garden while she was living there.
You will find all of the above at the “First Lady Rose Garden” at the Richard Nixon Library & Museum in Yorba Linda, CA. Laura Bush selected an orange – cinnamon floribunda for her namesake rose. She said it reminded her of a Texas sunset.
“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall”.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Roses Named After Singers
Barbra Streisand’s hybrid tea rose blends dreamy hues of lavender and mauve into an exquisite rose chosen and tested by the singer herself. Bing Crosby’s tall shrub hybrid tea bears handsome dark orange blooms with a mild spice fragrance.
Dolly Parton’s spirit is embodied with a big-bloomed reddish orange rose with a rosy clove fragrance, and fellow country singers Reba McEntire and LeeAnn Rimes are honored with an orange-red grandiflora and pink-yellow hybrid tea, respectively.
The (Paul) McCartney Rose is medium pink and highly fragrant. Freddie Mercury has a lovely rose named after him – looks similar to the famous Peace rose…a yellow rose tinged with pink.
Elvis is an orange-pink hybrid tea and Graceland a yellow hybrid tea (of course, referring to his Memphis home) where he and his mother are buried in the Meditation Garden.
Doris Day has a cheery, sunshiney yellow floribunda named after the singer and actress known for playing the “girl next door”.
Roses Named For Movie Stars
I know a movie buff who has a “Silver Screen” themed rose garden! Including the ‘Ingrid Bergman’ hybrid tea rose which boasts masses of deep red blooms, while breeders celebrate Bergman’s frequent costar ‘Cary Grant’ with another hybrid tea, this one bright orange with gold streaks. Dramatic pink petals adorn the ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ hybrid tea rose. ‘Marilyn Monroe’ lives on with a luscious apricot hybrid tea, and ‘Audrey Hepburn’ is remembered with a very ladylike light pink hybrid tea.
Actress-singer ‘Judy Garland’ has a cheery, show-stopping rose named for her–a scarlet, orange and yellow floribunda that makes you want to belt out “shout alleluia come on get happy”. The ‘George Burns’ rose is a bright and cheery floribunda with striped blooms of yellow, red and cream. The ‘Betty White’ rose is full of spirit just like its funny nonagenarian namesake. The huge creamy white blooms have a delicate apricot pink center and a very strong classic rose scent.
Roses Named For Artists, Authors, and Composers
‘William Shakespeare 2000’ is, without a doubt, a superb English shrub rose with blooms of rich velvety crimson, gradually changing to an equally rich purple. It grows at the playwright’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. Agatha Christie is commemorated by both a pinkish red floribunda and a clear pink climbing rose. Her sleuth, Miss Marple, tended roses for enjoyment as well as detective work. While ‘Mozart’ is a modern shrub rose in cerise pink with white centers.
Roses Named For Artists
‘Michelangelo’ has had several roses named after him – the most recent is a Romantica rose in golden yellow with a sweet lemony fragrance. ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ is light pink floribunda rose. In honor of America’s famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly, the ‘Chihuly’ floribunda rose has an ever-changing array of flashy colors. As the sun hits the opening petals, they blush from subtly-striped apricot yellow to dazzling orange and deep red.
Roses Named After Fictional Characters
The ‘Sir Lancelot’ floribunda rose features amber, peach and pink swirls. Both the tea rose and floribunda named after ‘Snow White’ are, of course, pure white, while the miniature blooms on the ‘Cinderella’ miniature are white with light pink markings.
The ‘Robin Hood’ shrub blooms with small bright red roses, while ‘Othello’ roses blend red with bright pink. A climbing rose honors ladies’ man ‘Don Juan’ and features romantic deep red, ruffled roses with an intense damask scent. Of course, ‘Frankly Scarlet’ honors the Gone with the Wind heroine, and is, naturally, deep scarlet in color.
Roses Named After Royalty
You can give your garden a royal flair with several types of roses. Several roses have honored England’s Queen Elizabeth and the various anniversaries of her crowning. The award-winning ‘Queen Elizabeth’ grandiflora offers striking pink blossoms which seem to let sunlight shine through the petals. ‘Princess of Monaco’ celebrates the former Grace Kelly with a large-flowered hybrid tea in white with pink edging and a fruity fragrance. ‘Princess Diana’s’ legacy lives on with a blended-pink hybrid tea rose.
Recently an old English shrub rose was named in celebration of the Royal Wedding of Prince ‘William and Catherine’, the Duchess of Cambridge. As the flowers first start to open the color is a soft creamy apricot, which quickly fades to cream and then to pure white.
Want a Rose Named After You? You don’t necessarily need to be famous … all you need is deep pockets. Every major rose company keeps a portfolio of unnamed seedlings that are available for a price. Contact your local rose nursery (public relations dept.) to find out if they will name a plant to order. Fees vary and are steep … averaging $15,000 or more.
This list is just a small collection of roses that were named after famous people. There are many, many more but the majority are no longer available …
These roses named after famous people are typically the best of roses. After all, celebrities can be picky as their reputation is at stake. For example, Barbara Streisand was quite particular in what kind of rose can be named after her. Her choice was a stunning, showy mauve / lavendar rose with large flowers which have a strong / sweet fragrance.