Human Flower Project

Who Has the Eldridge Cleaver Rose?

A major rose seller leans decidedly to the right when it comes to naming its hybrid teas.


The Eldridge Clever rose, for the radical gardener who has mellowed (We wish; it’s actually “Pope John Paul II”)

Image: Human Flower Project

Has anyone noticed the creeping—no, CLIMBING conservatism of a certain well known rose seller? We’d assumed that rose bushes were politically neutral. Silly us. With people taking sides on corn, cut flowers, and hemp, why not roses, too? The problem is this big hybridizer only offers right-wing flowers. What’s a Commie, or trade unionist, or plain old Democrat to do?

Someone dear to us -– a proud, long-time liberal—will be celebrating a birthday soon. After having won the ’08 election, she lost several roses in the rough winter of ’09-’10. We hoped to buy her a new hybrid tea and so jumped on the website of this noted company and began clicking around.


Nancy Reagan (left) has her rose, as does Laura Bush. Why not Hillary Clinton?

Image: Human Flower Project

Immediately we found several lovely varieties, but in just about every case, the names nixed a sale. Our dear celebrant would no more plant “Nancy Reagan” in her garden than wear a tri-cornered hat to a tea party demonstration! Neither would we be sending “Pope John Paul II” or “Our Lady of Guadalupe” to this cradle Episcopalian, despite her lifetime of ecumenicism.

What a revelation! We figure that this well established company has an expert staff of marketers. Does its nomenclature suggest that rosarians trend Republican? To be fair, there was a John F. Kennedy rose, but where was Hillary Clinton? Where, pray tell, was Eldridge Cleaver or Matisse, Mother Jones or Rudolph Nureyev?


The John Updike rose? (No, it’s actually not a WASP but Our Lady of Guadalupe.)

Image: Human Flower Project

In this age of niche marketing, we hope that some good hybridizer out there in left-leaning Oregon will take note. Bring us the Allen Ginsberg rose (preferably purple and highly fragrant) and we’ll be first in line to buy.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/30 at 04:38 PM


Interesting post. Although, I’ve always associated roses with the moneyed class so I can’t say I’m surprised at the lack of roses for Liberals or people who create social change.

Posted by MrBrownThumb on 03/30 at 05:46 PM

Roses exist for everyone, not just the rich.  As for a rose named after a liberal who made social changes, how about the Eleanor Roosevelt rose, about which she said:
“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/02 at 09:41 AM

Thank you Mr. BT and Linda for these interesting comments.
I, too, think that roses are widely cultivated and enjoyed—by people with deep pockets and shallow ones, too. But those with less $$ likely acquire their roses by sharing cuttings, not via big hybridizer-sellers of the sort mentioned here.

Linda, I sure didn’t see the Eleanor Roosevelt rose among their selections. Perhaps the marketing that displeased Eleanor was a general turn-off and this rose was “discontinued”—or re-named for a Republican. (Hilarious story! and a choice addition to HFP.)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/02 at 04:57 PM

Great post, Julie.  We found Linda’s comment very funny.

Posted by Georgia on 04/07 at 07:41 PM

The company that introduced ‘Nancy Reagan’ and othe conservative roses has just declared bankruptcy.  The other major rose producer, whose varieties include ‘Rosie O’Donnell’ and ‘Cesar Chavez’, is still doing well.  Coincidence?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/10 at 12:25 PM

Thanks, Georgia and Jim.

Intrigued to hear of Cesar Chavez rose, Jim. From what I can tell, the same company developed and sells BOTH Cesar and Nancy!

check these links:


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/10 at 02:24 PM

I am Hillary Clinton’s garden designer - I order Hillary Clinton tulips every year frmo Holland and there is a rose but it is in France an dvery hard to get…any ideas? contact me at

Posted by Jan Johnsen on 04/10 at 06:25 PM

Julie, how wonderful that Hillary Clinton’s garden designer follows HFP!

Posted by Georgia on 04/12 at 08:27 PM

Oh yes - I think your point about Hillary not having a rose is well taken! I will show her this.
please go to my blog -

Posted by Jan Johnsen on 04/13 at 07:11 AM

Jan, Terrific to hear from you!

The Hillary rose, as you may know, was developed by Laperriere in Lyon, France. Here’s a link

The plant is extolled for “son coloris éclatant et sa couverture de fleurs.”

Not sure about regs for importing French rose bushes, but our Secretary of State “éclatante” should be able to obtain that information for you!

Thank so much for writing—and you, too, Georgia. We are grateful for all HFP followers.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/13 at 11:31 AM
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