A longtime B.C. breeder and his elegant apricot-tinged rose are playing a big part in marking Vogue's quasquicentennial.
The U.S.-based fashion magazine decided to celebrate their 125th birthday by naming a rose after itself. It ended up picking Brad Jalbert's plant for the honour, created at his nursery, Select Roses, in Langley, B.C.
"They were looking for something that would be for today's modern garden," said Jalbert, the rose's creator, hybridizer and breeder.
"They liked our baby best."
Jalbert was one of the breeders recommended to Vogue by famed New York rose cultivator Stephen Scanniello. He said he started working on the rose that would become Vogue's pick back in 2009 (a crossing of his Loretta Lynn Van Lear rose and the yellow Julia Child rose). It caught his eye early on so he put a red tag on it, which he does when he thinks a rose might be a keeper.
That's quite the feat given it takes about eight years to create, test and grow a new rose. Jalbert said he'll plant 10 or 15,000 seeds each year; from that 5,000 germinate. That number gets whittled down to about five by the eighth year, "if I'm lucky."
"There's the odd one that sticks out in your head," he said. "[The Vogue rose] was the first one to bloom in their seed flat."
'Hollywood stars need less cultivation'
The painstaking growing process means the rights to name one of the successful roses are exclusive and highly coveted.
"Major Hollywood stars need less cultivation," Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor-in-chief, wrote of the rose in a recent letter from the editor.
Vogue said it opted to celebrate with a rose because of the plant's newfound prominence on fashion runways and among trend setters. The magazine said Jalbert's rose met all of the points on its list of ideal qualities — "elegant and of its moment," "bright and glossy," and "able to thrive anywhere." The rose is said to smell like citrus and vanilla.
Jalbert said he didn't understand how big a deal it was when his rose was chosen.
"I knew of the magazine. I've seen it on the shelf. I would have to honestly say, 'No,' I had never read the magazine a day in my life," he said.
Will be available in Canada next year
Jalbert has since become a big fan — he has 10 copies of the magazine on his table (his rose was featured in the June 2017 issue) and has mulled handing them out to family and friends.
And though he may be hyped as Vogue's "star hybridizer," he's not letting the accolades go to his head. He didn't get an invite to the magazine's big 125th birthday bash in New York this past February, a city he has never even been to before.
"I think that the hybridizer is often forgot about in the equation," he said.
Jalbert is looking forward to hearing about all the different gardens where his rose pops up — they are being sold through a rose company in the U.S. and will likely be available in Canada next year.
He dreams of one day naming one of his rose creations after his mother, Lori.
"Every time I show her one, it's not good enough," he said. "She's been waiting for 27 years for my best rose."