Ballerina rose has very small single blossoms in large sprays that are reminiscent of hydrangeas. David Austin dates it to 1937, by Bentall. It is a hybrid musk rose and considered wonderful in the garden border. Our story on Saturday is that this rose got its name when a young women in the U.S. moved to New York in 1932 to become a ballerina. She brought two of these rose plants with her. And what she did was take each tiny flower and freeze it in an ice cube. Then she sold them to the New York bars for fancy drinks. She made her fortune this way, and named the rose "Ballerina".
The documented hybridizing story is that the rose was hybridized by Joseph Pemberton in London between 1912 and 1926. He hybridized 35 varieties and 20 are available in the nursery trade today. Pemberton is well covered as a rosarian and nursery owner and when he died, he bequeathed the roses to their gardeners and that's how Jack and Ann Bentall became associated with the rose. The famous rose Iceberg of 1958 was bred from one of Pemberton's. Iceberg is one of the all-time popular white roses and still grown widely today.
So how is the Polish Pope related to roses? John Paul II has a beautiful white rose named for him. It was hybridized at Jackson and Perkins, and Vatican representatives travelled to the hybridizing field before the Pope's death from Parkinson's. A group of Cardinals picked out this exceptional pure white rose to be the commemorative rose after his death.
Jackson and Perkins went out of business, though the name is still used for the current selling. Our grower at Palantine has this rose in the field, and was contacted by the company that bought Jackson and Perkins, and threatened with a law suit over licensing. What he knew though, was that the Vatican had paid outright for the rose - he said $150,000 - and owned it without any patent or licensing rights attached to it. So he is able to continue to grow and sell this exceptional rose. Unless the Vatican decides otherwise.
We see the Ballerina rose in the field - you can see the tiny flowers in big hydrangea clusters.