By Suzanne Horn

Chatillon Rose is a delicate and romantic polyantha that comes all the way from France. Introduced by a French nurseryman named Auguste Nonin in 1928, Chatillon Rose comes from a class of roses that traces its origins to the rose known as R. multiflora 'Polyantha'.

Chatillon Rose is a seedling of Orleans Rose ( 'Orléans Rose' x unnamed seedling), and has many of the characteristics of its prolific parent. However, it exhibits a rare bonus that is rarely seen among the Orleans group of roses  it has a lovely fragrance!

Rose expert Bob Martin advised me that "The first polyantha was produced without pollination from sowing seeds of the mysterious rosa multiflora polyantha." I have found that polyanthas are generally very hardy plants that continually produce large clusters of small blooms, and Chatillon Rose is no exception. As a matter of fact "many blooms" is what the Greek word polyantha means. A very popular class of roses from the first half of the last century, they were also called "poly-poms" by the British.

Chatillon Rose in particular has many appealing attributes. It is known for making enormous sprays of lighter than air pink blossoms, which give the impression of flocks of little butterflies. Its flowers are bright medium pink, and the center of each bloom is white with a warm glow of rich yellow stamens. These delicate blooms are bountifully clothed in attractive, medium green foliage on a vigorous upright plant.

Like most polyanthas, Chatillon Rose blooms profusely on new canes that emerge from or close to the ground as well as on old canes. This tendency to have a number of canes and stems at different stages of maturity at the same time is common among polyanthas, and ensures a steady and reliable rebloom factor. This ever-blooming characteristic, known as remontance, combined with hardiness and disease resistance, makes Chatillon Rose a perfect choice for the home garden.

By way of growth habit, Chatillon Rose is extremely vigorous and tends to grow larger than many polyantha plants. It produces great masses of flowers, especially if the spent blooms are deadheaded away regularly. Have no doubt that the abundance of blooms will be a fine reward for any deadheading you perform. Since this rose flowers and reblooms so profusely, it is an excellent choice to plant in beds, low hedges and mass plantings, and will provide color and fragrance in the garden throughout most of the year. It is also a splendid plant for containers, and makes a bright splash of color wherever it is planted.

Most polyanthas, including Chatillon Rose, are similar to floribundas in that they produce many small canes and clusters of small blooms, which are under two inches in width. It is no surprise to learn that they are the forerunners to the floribunda roses, which were bred from polyanthas and hybrid teas, and which enjoy such popularity today.

By way of background, the hybridizing of the early Polyantha roses began in the 1870s, and they enjoyed a great deal of popularity into the 1930's. They were often sold for Mother's Day in little containers, much like the generic, mass-produced miniature roses, which are sold in grocery stores today. By the end of the 1930's, many polyantha roses had undergone a considerable transformation, from dwarf, compact plants with small blooms to much larger, more robust bushes with large foliage and flowers. It was then acknowledged that a new class of roses had emerged. This new group of roses was originally called "Hybrid Polyantha", a name that was subsequently changed to "Floribunda".

Since the 1930's, many new polyanthas have been introduced and classified as shrubs and miniatures, and thus have been more difficult to identify in commerce, while their larger and more spectacular offspring, the floribundas have made a large splash in the marketplace. However, many wonderful p olyanthas continue to be grown and sold, although they are more likely to be found in smaller, boutique nurseries that specialize in antique roses than in the bigger, more commercial venues. Therefore, Chatillon Rose is not widely available commercially at this time. 

Polyanthas also make wonderful exhibition roses, and classes can be found in most rose shows for polyantha sprays and often three polyantha sprays. Chatillon Rose is a polyantha that does well on the trophy table. 

Chatillon Rose, like most polyantha roses, is hardy, undemanding and easy to grow. It is therefore a good variety for beginners, since it does not require a lot of effort and attention. It is colorful, fragrant, disease-resistant and floriferous, making it an all-around delightful cultivar.
In conclusion, if you're a modern rose grower who is longing for a nostalgic, turn of the century garden, polyanthas like Chatillon Rose can reward you with the beauty and charm of yesteryear. Let a stroll through your garden take you back to the romance of the past with Chatillon Rose!

*** Post Script: For readers interested in learning more about the history and development of polyantha roses, I highly recommend seeking out Robert Martin's exceptional articles entitled "My Favorite Polyantha," plus "The Modern Polyantha", which was published in the 2000 American Rose Annual. Mr. Martin sent a copy of the latter in-depth article to me after proofreading this article; and I was amazed at how much more there was to learn about the extraordinary polyantha rose! 

© Copyright Suzanne Horn. All rights reserved. 

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Updated January 4, 2016

'Chatillon Rose' Photo by Glenn Fiery