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The Black Rose

.....Some roses likely came on horseback, via military men. There is a  wonderful story about the Black Rose of Major John Francis Hamtramck. The Major, returning home from a campaign in Mexico in 1848, stopped off at the frontier post of Saint Louis.  He had been stationed there earlier in his career with his old friend Meriwether Lewis Hamtramck was a passionate amateur botanist.

On this visit, he fell under the spell of a newly arrived plant:  the Black Rose, The Major delayed his departure home until he had secured several rooted cuttings. He packed them in a moist bundle, placed the bundle in the pocket of his greatcoat, and set off on the month-long walk to his home in Virginia.  Hamtramck's rose was thought to be a Gallica hybrid, recently arrived from France and brought upriver from New Orleans. In 1950, relatives reported the bush was still blooming in the family garden.

​The Major's passion for unusual plants was not limited to his rose.  He gained notoriety among friends and neighbors for introducing them to an very odd new item from his kitchen garden, the tomato!

Then, there were no truly black roses but rather very deep red or violet blooms.  There are several tea roses of recent introduction that are called black, and in Hamtramck's time at least one rose, the velvety red Gallica rose 'Francis Dubreuil' was referred to as black. I've recently seen seed for sale of a true black rose, but have yet to experience one in person. Have you? Let me know!    ​

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