If plants could speak, “Peace” roses (Rosa “Peace”) can tell a story as gripping as any Helen MacInnes World War II spy book. After Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, Francis Meilland shipped budwood from his treasured rose hybrid “Madame A. Meilland” into Pennsylvania’s Conard-Pyle Company on the last plane to leave France before the war started. Conard-Pyle cultivated the hybrid, introducing it as “Peace” concurrently with Berlin’s April 1945 fall. The immensely popular rose has since created several striking variants of its own.
Conard-Pyle’s shrub rose “Peace,” still identified in the Royal Horticultural Society’s database as “Madame A. Meilland,” normally stands 3 to 4 feet tall with a 2- to 3-foot spread. Hardy over U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, “Peace” has spring-to-fall flushes of fully double, 6-inch flowers. The ivory-yellow flowers with pink-dusted margins unfurl from pointed, gold and fuchsia buds crowning 1 1/2- to 2-foot stems of shiny, deep-green leaves. The sweetly fragrant blooms make for long-lasting cut flowers.
Grower Stanley C. Johnston introduced the Chicago Peace (Rosa “Johnago”) rose in 1962. Named for the city of this sport’s discovery, Chicago Peace differs from the parent in flower color and heat tolerance. Suitable for growing in USDA zones 6 through 10, the 3- to 4-foot-high plant contains 5-inch blossoms of canary-throated, orange-pink petals. The flowers open always, unlike those of flush-blooming Peace. Disease-resistant Chicago Peace has a spread of around 3 feet.
Lee A. Brady of Tyler, Texas, discovered a climbing Peace sport in 1947 and assigned the patent to Conard-Pyle. Introduced commercially in 1949 as “Peace, Cl.” (R. “Peace, Cl.”) , Increasing Peace shares its parent’s flower and leaf characteristics, including sporadic flushes of blooms throughout the year. It grows as a vigorous, 6- to 20-foot climber at USDA zones 6b through 9 b.
Flaming Passion (R. “Macbo”) combines the best of crimson and Peace roses using its exceptionally dense, 6-inch blooms. This Peace sport, discovered and introduced by Ireland’s Samuel McGredy and Son, Nurserymen in the 1960s, has contains dark, pinkish-red petals with yellow reverses. Generally reaching 6 inches across when fully open, the flowers change to soft purple with white reverses as they mature. Flaming Passion, hardy in USDA zones 5b into 9b, grows from 2 1/2 to 5 feet tall.