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Maréchal Niel, Bred by Pradel, France 1864.

Maréchal NielRecords show that 'Maréchal Niel' is a seedling of another yellow Noisette, 'Isbella Gray' raised from seed sown in 1858 by Mons. Pradel. It was named after a French general, the Minister of War of Napoleon III.

This yellow rose likely has more history to it than any other of the 19th century. It was one of the first truly deep yellow, repeat blooming yellows, and much adored as such. From the French periodical, Journal des Roses, an account of Mons. Pradel's new rose is as follows: "Instead of taking advantage of this great find, Mons. Pradel became jealous about it. He hid it mysteriously. In 1860, the wife of one of his clients having lost a very pretty 'Chromatella' which had grown on one of her garden walls...she said to him 'Never will you be able to replace it!'; 'Yes, Madame', responded Pradel, 'I will replace it for you with another even prettier which you will hold dear, because my yellow rose is a veritable marvel.' He gave it to her. The Rose was well looked after, and grew wonderfully. Some time later, Mons R____, a great fancier, went to pay a visit to the woman, and saw the rose [ -the rest being History].

At right: Painting by Childe Hassam: "Maréchal Niel Roses", 1919. oil on canvas; 26 1/2" x 32 5/8". Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Indeed, history records 'Maréchal Niel' as being one of the most loved of all roses of its time, in spite of its temperament. It needs a greenhouse, or a southern clime to prosper, and can be slow to become established, resenting harsh or careless pruning, and even suffering from some mildew at times. However, if cared for, it has no rival for its beauty. In fact, it was once grown (circa 1889) as a cut flower crop in New York City: "The 'Maréchal Niel' rose is, like the 'General Jacqueminot', most extensively forced under glass for its buds; probably three acres of glass surface are used for it in the vicinity of New York City..." Such a legacy! It is no wonder that we still have this variety with us today to enjoy as it was over 100 years ago.

ARS merit rating: 7.4
Personal merit rating: 8.5
Hardiness: Likely USDA zones 8 to 10, possibly zone 7 in a protected location.
Shrub size: Up to 15 feet tall, depending on climate
Fragrance: 4.5, A strong Tea scent with a fruity overtone.

Céline Forestier Maréchal Niel
Crépuscule Rêve d'Or
Gloire de Dijon

Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2003