Mme Abel Chatenay

related pages: about hybrid tea roses · hybrid tea photo gallery
Mme Abel Chatenay Mme Abel Chatenay

class: Hybrid Tea Rose
breeding: Pernet-Ducher, 1895
photographed by Daphne Filiberti in her garden / by Patrice Huet at Roseraie de l'Haÿ

'Mme Abel Chatenay' was bred by Joseph Pernet-Ducher in 1895. The rose is an original Hybrid Tea, the cross between 'Victor Verdier' (Hybrid Perpetual) and 'Dr. Grill' (Tea). When this rose was introduced it was recognized as one of the finest garden roses. In Roses Jack Harkness wrote, "It's two or three pink colors blended in so distinctive a manner that the color was known as 'Chatenay pink'." The rose has an attractive tea-like fragrance and blend to the color. The shrub is china-like, full with fine leaves and stems. Elegant soft pink scrolled buds with a carmine reverse open reflexing their petals backward until the distinctive Chatenay star is revealed. The sheen to the petals is what grabs me. Light reflects off these petals like it would a fine tapestry of satin, velvet, and somewhat pearlized silk. Graham Thomas stated that the rose stands apart from all others for its intense piercing fragrance. The rose is a healthy, happy addition to my garden. I have had the rose planted for a couple years. The rose's stature is smaller than most modern Hybrid Teas. It has reached about 2.5 feet so far.

I recently received an email from Patrice Huet, the great-grandson of Madame Abel Chatenay with the following information:

"Madame Abel Chatenay, born Augustine-Delphine Chatenay was born in Vitry-sur-Seine (then a village, now a suburb of Paris) on the 20th of January 1857 and died in Cabourg, in the family's summer house, on the 26th of August 1928.

She married a near relative, also from Vitry, Abel Chatenay, on the 22nd of April 1876 and had three daughters ; two of the daughters died very young but my grandmother died in 1977 and was buried in Vitry in her parents's grave.

The name of Chatenay used to be very famous in the branch of gardening. Coming from Vitry, a cousin established rose gardening in Doué-la-Fontaine, now one of the most famous rose gardening areas in the world, in 1762.

Abel Chatenay was Vice-President of the Société Nationale d'Horticulture de France and Commandeur of the Legion of Honor.

An ancestor of both Augustine and Abel was Gardener-in-Chief at Choisy-le-Roi, where Louis XV spent his weekends and vacations far away from the heavy atmosphere of Versailles, very often in company of his mistresses, among them the Marchioness of Pompadour. He recovered of the smallpox and hid himself because of the ugly scars on his face. But recovering of the smallpox, at that time, was a sensation and the king summoned him and welcomed him telling him : 'Chatenay, tu es magnifique !', which means 'You are magnificent!'.

Searching on Google, I was flabbergasted to discover another web site with the genealogy of the Chatenay family. I had never heard of the gentleman who did that huge job about my own ancestors, M Jean-Charles Lemanceau ; like me he had a Chatenay grandmother, but from the Doué-la-Fontaine branch of the family. I am now exchanging e-mails with him in order to learn more about the Chatenay and forward to him the small information I remember from my grandmother. If you go to his web site*, you will see all ancestors back to the 16th century. But it's all in French. Your picture of the rose is now the most beautiful image on that huge website!

My grandmother married the portrait painter Léon-Armand Huet in 1906 and gave birth to one son in 1909. My father Paul Huet was a farmer near Paris and died in 1981. I spent much time with my grandmother in the family's summer house Abel Chatenay had bought in 1894 in Cabourg (Balbec in the books of Marcel Proust)."

Patrice sent me the photo of 'Mme Abel Chatenay' on the top right of this page. It was taken on the 6th of June at the famous Rose Garden in L'Haÿ-les-Roses. Patrice wrote the following:
"I had to hold 'Madame Abel Chatenay' in my left hand while taking the picture. There are three other buds and and I'll go there again soon. The tree looks very tired altogether; I was told it was probably an original (from Page himself?), so it is probably 80 years old. But they will probably soon replace it with another 'Madame Abel Chatenay', as they keep that part of the collections going. I learned in the small museum attached to the garden that in 1899 'Madame Abel Chatenay' (the bush at that time) was one of the 31 roses of the private collection of Monsieur et Madame Jules Gravereaux, this among 1 500 varieties ! There is also a group of pictures of the members of the Rose Section of the Société Nationale d'Horticulture de France, made around 1912. Abel Chatenay is there too, as Secrétaire Général of the SNHF. He was a member of the Board of Directors of SNHF for 50 years and was first Vice-President from 1913 until his death in 1931. I made pictures of others roses too; I am trying to learn how to use a digital camera..."

Thank you Patrice! All the years I have grown and admired this rose, I knew there must be a history. You have given the rose a new depth.

*There is a French translation of my descriptions on the rose as well as a lot of interesting information on the family, which can be found at:

To read more about Patrice and to find a list of plants named for the Chatenays and Huets link here.

©2000-2005 Daphne Filiberti