The obsession that keeps Harald Enders awake at night is this: What if there's a rose lurking in your garden—or more likely, your grandmother's garden—that is the last living example of a rare variety? Please go check for him. We'll wait.
An example: A rose called 'Bardou Job' was found, after having been thought lost for decades, in the abandoned garden of the prison director on Alcatraz island. "I am still waiting for that to happen to me," says Enders, a rosarian who has spent years trying to save old German roses from being forgotten. Of the 1,800 or so cultivars bred between the end of the 19th century and World War II, many are extinct. More than 300 survivors grow in Enders' garden, an hour's drive from Hamburg. "I do not have a favorite—or perhaps, I have quite a few," says Enders, author of Bourbon Roses (available, in German, from Amazon). We see why it's difficult to choose:
Above: Blooming in Jestädt, Germany. Image by Travel Maria, via Flickr.
Above: 'Gruss an Aachen' was bred by Wilhelm Hinner, "a rather enigmatic figure in German rose history" who picked fights with other well-known breeders, says Enders. As for Hinner's rose, it's available seasonally ($45, for a root, from Vintage Gardens). Image by Ezys, via Flickr.
Above: The rambler Tausendschon, with blooms that range from bright pink to white. Bred by Hermann Kiese (1865-1923), a nurseryman in a little town called Vieselbach, it now is available seasonally, for $14.95 per plant, from Vintage Gardens. Image by Malcolm Manners, via Flickr.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 3, 2012.