War was on the horizon when French horticulturist Frances Meilland developed a hybrid tea rose with petals light yellow to cream-colored and edged with crimson pink.
Wanting to protect the new rose, cuttings were sent away to friends in Italy, Turkey, Germany and the United States. One story has it that the cuttings sent to the United States made it out on the last flight just ahead of the German invasion of France.
The rose cuttings thrived, and because the war prevented communications between the growers, different names were given to the new rose. In Italy, it was called Gioia, meaning Joy, while Germany named the rose Gloria Dei, for glory to God. In France, it was called “Madame A. Meilland” in honor of the breeder’s mother, and is the official cultivar name for the rose.
As the Second World War finally came to a close in Europe, the trade name “Peace” was publicly announced on April 29, 1945, the name it was given in the United States, Sweden and Norway. Later that year delegates at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations were each given a Peace rose with note that read:
“We hope the Peace rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”
Wishing for more trees (today, the last Friday in April, is also National Arbor Day), more roses, and of course more peace.
Ahead of the storm
Hope blossomed in foreign lands
Roses sweet as peace