The history of the original rose

Honorary Page taken from the Golden Book of the Society for Agriculture and Botany featuring the signatures of the American delegation, 2 January 1815. An illustration taken from R. De Herdt (1990), Gentse Floraliën; Sierteelt in Vlaanderen, Ghent, p. 214 The KMLP’s coat of arms, featuring the goddesses Flora and Ceres and the motto “Veneficia mea, quirites”

Société d’Agriculture et de Botanique

The “Société d’Agriculture et de Botanique”, known today as the “Koninklijke Maatschappij voor Landbouw en Plantkunde” (KMLP or Royal Society for Agriculture and Botany), was founded in 1808 with the aim of promoting agriculture, botany and horticulture in Ghent and the surrounding region. To this end, this association organised a biannual flower exhibition.

January 1815 |

Members of the American delegation sign the KMLP’s golden visitor’s book.

On 2 January 1815, the American delegation was officially received by the “Société d’ Agriculture et de Botanique”. John Quincy Adams, Albert Gallatin and James A. Bayard signed the association’s visitor’s book on this occasion. Henry Clay would do so at a later date.

On 5 January 1815, an official farewell dinner took place in the town hall of Ghent. John Quincy Adams corresponded for several years with the friends he made in Ghent. A letter has been preserved in the KMLP’s archives (dated 10 September 1817) in which John Quincy Adams puts Norbert Cornelissen, a former member of the Royal Society for Agriculture and Botany, in touch with John Davis, a judge in Massachusetts and the president of the “Société Linnéenne” (Linnean Society) of Boston.

February 1815 |

American plants included in the winter exhibition in honour of the American delegation Following the signing of the treaty on 24 December 1814, the “Société d’Agriculture et de Botanique” wanted to congratulate the American delegation and put the members of the US delegation in a special spotlight. It decided that during its next “winter exhibition” in 1815, two plants from the United States would be exhibited and be dedicated to members of the delegation : for John Quincy Adams an Andromeda cassinifolia and an Azalea nudiflora, for Albert Gallatin a Kalmia glauca and a Kalmia trifolia, for Henry Clay a Kalmia glauca and an Olea americana and for James A. Bayard a Cassia ligustrina and an Azalea nudiflora.

Rose ToG
Botanical description | This hybrid rose is a variety that has been trialed for over three years in the ground in zone 5 of the USDA Plant Hardiness zone map, and made it through all winters. It is disease resistant and blooms heavily from spring through fall. Similar to the rose ‘Knockout’. This new selection grows in a “landscape” habit.The (former) Association even went to Washington D.C.  in 2014 to plant a yellow rose, specially cultivated by the Ghent Floralies in reference to the rose which was offered to the participants of the treaty conference in 1814. The rose can be seen in the gardens of the Belgian Embassy in Washington, in the garden of…. and ….. in Canada.

1815 |

The “Congrès de Gand” rose and Azalea “Columbia”

The decision was also made to name the most beautiful rose grown by one of the society’s members in the course of the year, “Congrès de Gand”. No further details are known about the most beautiful azalea (Azalea americana), which was supposed to be named “Columbia”.
The “Congrès de Gand” rose. According to tradition, the most beautiful rose of 1815 was grown by fifteen-year old Alexander-Jacques Verschaffelt (1801 – 1850) on the land of his father, Pierre-Antoine, a skilled gardener, living in the Holstraat in Ghent. When he held a public sale of roses on 9 June 1815, it also included the rose, the “Congrès de Gand”. His son, Alexander-Jacques Verschaffelt, would go on to found a well-known horticultural company in Ghent. Not much is known about what this rose looked like. It probably was a Province rose. Only a short description is to be found, which however dates back to 1885, in Max Singer, Dictionnaire des Roses ou Guide Général du Rosiériste, part I, Brussels (Dictionary of Roses or General Guide to the rose grower): “Congrès de Gand. Fleur moyenne, pleine, coloris rose vif” (medium flower, full, bright pink). There is no known illustration of this rose.

by René De Herdt

2014 |

The launch of a new rose: Rosa Treaty of Ghent

To celebrate the bicentenary anniversary of the Treaty of Ghent concluded between the United States and Great Britain, the KMLP has decided to launch a new rose, the “rose of peace”, bearing the name ‘Treaty of Ghent rose’. This rose has been officially planted in the United States and Canada, during a tour in July 2014 organised by the non-profit association “Treaty of Ghent.”

Jan Oprins, CEO