American Rose Society – Annual Issue, 2006

American Rose Society – Annual Issue, 2006

“Oh Rose, Who Dares to Name Thee” – Perspectives on Naming a Rose

By Cliff Orent.

On a typical English spring day in May 2006, following the introduction by Harkness firm of the ‘Caroline Victoria’ rose at the Chelsea Flower Show, Elizabeth Coldicutt, of Rancho Mirage, California, was granted an audience with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, at which she, along with Sir Donald Sinden, CBE, president of the Royal Theatrical Fund, presented a bouquet of ‘Caroline Victoria’ roses to Her Royal Highness.  Her meeting with the Queen was the high point in a whirlwind year for Coldicutt, during which she worked with steadfast determination to establish an appropriate memorial for her daughter, Caroline.

Caroline Victoria Coldicutt was a great lover of art and had a talent for depicting tranquil California landscapes.  When she died, tragically, in March 2004 at the age of 17, she had already won regional art awards for her landscapes, and her work had been shown at the Palm Springs Art Museum and in numerous galleries in California, London and Paris.

Caroline Victoria with actress Jane Seymour at an art gallery in Palm Desert, CA.

Born in La Jolla, California, she began at an early age to sketch scenes of her family’s summer home in Canada and her black standard poodle, Charlie.  Determined to create a living memorial for her daughter and to raise funds for charities important to the arts, Elizabeth Coldicutt conducted an extensive search for a rose, preferably an English rose, that she felt would be appropriate to carry her daughter’s name.

“I searched the internet and found one produced by Harkness Roses,” she said.  “At that time I also learned that Harkness, a family run business since 1879, had a long history of charitable fundraising through the sale of roses.  Roses can be used to honor someone while they are alive or used as a living memorial.  If the person is well known or if a portion of the proceeds are donated to charity, then the commission may be reduced.  I was so excited to discover this as I was looking for a way of memorializing my daughter’s life, in addition to raising funds for the Caroline Victoria Arts Foundation, which will provide scholarships for art students.”  Family-owned and run Harkness has already raised over $250,000 for charity through the sale of roses, primarily with top earners “Samaritan’, ‘Princess of Wales’, chosen by Princess Diana for the British Lung Foundation and ‘Mountbatten’.

During a trip to London in the summer of 2005, Elizabeth reviewed a selection of roses that Harkness had already field tested for five years and, with the input from her family and the directors of the Royal Theatrical Fund, a London-based charity, she chose an ivory-white hybrid tea.

“Our daughter’s love of all things creative and artistic encompasses the beauty of this rose,” she said.  “Her passion was fine art and painting, and Thomas, Caroline’s dad, and I felt that we had found the perfect rose to be associated with Caroline’s name.”  With ‘Audrey Hepburn’ rose as the seed parent (its “mother”) and ‘New Zealand’ rose as its pollen parent (its “father”), the ‘Caroline Victoria’ rose is ivory-white in color, produced by two well-loved light pink parents and the bloom has inherited its parents’ serenity and grace.  The high center of this hybrid tea rose takes on shades of gold as it opens, depending upon heat and light, and the bloom receives the highest marks for fragrance and disease resistance, both of which are outstanding.  Its fragrance is strong and long-lasting, distinct and complex, with a foundation of tropical citrus with raspberry overtones infused by a hint of mint.  The plant forms a well-branched bush, suitable for planting in beds, borders or as a low hedge.  It is an excellent rose for the garden, and supreme as a cut flower for the vase.  And it has the additional attribute of rapid rebloom.

The Caroline Victoria Rose

Received with great enthusiasm at the Chelsea Flower Show and described by the London Times as “swirls of ice cream,” the rose will commercially introduced by Harkness first in the U.K. and then throughout Europe, with the hope that it will be available in North America.  Proceeds of 10 percent to 30 percent from the sale of the rose will be donated to the Royal Theatrical Fund, a charity founded in 1839 by Charles Dickens and a group of actors.  Elizabeth Coldicutt explains, “The ‘Caroline Victoria’ rose was commissioned to honor Caroline’s passion for the arts.  What better way to represent this passion than through a lovely rose used in support of the Royal Theatrical Fund which lends its efforts in assisting those in need in the theatrical arts and other creative media.”

“We are extremely grateful to Caroline’s mother for pledging the money raised by this beautiful rose to the RTF so that we can help people in need,” said Sir Donald Sinden, CBE, the fund’s president.  “It will be a lasting reminder of Caroline’s beautiful work as well as being a practical help for many people.”

Elizabeth Coldicutt stands behind an arrangement of 'Caroline Victoria' roses at the Chelsea Flower Show.

To help celebrate the Queen’s official 80th birthday in June 2006, two ‘Caroline Victorias’ were to be planted at Buckingham Palace rose gardens as a fitting tribute to a loving monarch whose great-grandmother reigned as Queen Victoria and to honor a young woman named Caroline.  So Shakespeare’s ‘rose by any other name would smell as sweet” bears particular meaning for this lovely hybrid tea.

Actor Michael Ball, Paul Gane, chairman of the Royal Theatrical Fund, Elizabeth Coldicutt, Sir Donald Sinden, president of the Royal Theatrical Fund & Robert Harkness.

Elizabeth Coldicutt and Sir Donald Sinden greet the Queen at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Elizabeth Coldicutt and Sir Donald Sinden present a bouquet of 'Caroline Victoria' roses to Queen Elizabeth.

For more information about the ‘Caroline Victoria’ rose or to follow its progress, visit the Caroline Victoria Arts Foundation website at

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This article is reprinted with permission from the American Rose Society. Cliff Orent is owner of Desert EuroRoses, Morongo Valley, CA.  Please contact him at

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