Cape Cod Heritage Roses

Roses on Cape Cod Yesterday and Today



The Walsh Catalog of Roses

Michael Walsh was born in Wales January 18, 1848 and arrived in the United States in 1875. He had already earned an education in horticulture and was an experienced gardener before his arrival. By the turn of the century, after working under several employers in this country, he became the head gardener of the Joseph S. Fay estate in Woods Hole. There he ran a very successful rose business from greenhouses on the Fay family property with the encouragement of Mr. Fay and in partnership his daughter, Sara B. Fay.

The Fay estate dedicated three acres to growing thousands of roses serving as a test bed for ramblers and other types of roses and a repository for the roses used in the hybridizing by Mr. Walsh. This property was located at the head of little harbor. The house is still there, although the gardens are now gone. Today the house is called Challenger House and is part of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

A memorial stone and a small garden of his ramblers was erected in 1943 on land given by the Fay estate between Challenger house and the Woods Hole Historical Museum. Five of Mr. Walsh's roses are on display along a split rail fence. This garden is now part of the Woods Hole Historical Society. Michael Walsh died in Woods Hole April 10, 1922 at the age of 74.

Mr. Walsh, although famous for his development of the Cape Cod rambler roses, also hybridized other types of roses particularly hybrid teas which were, at the time, just beginning to become popular. He was the recipient of the Gold Medal for the hybrid perpetual 'Jubilee,' introduced in 1897 and during his rose career was the recipient of numerous First Prizes, Certificates of Merit and four Silver Medals. He was an active member of the American Rose Society and many mentions of him can be found in their journal The American Rose Annual.


       

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Excelsa Hedge
Lady Blanche
Excelsa in Barnstable
Lady Blanche in Woods Hole
Many of the Walsh ramblers are not presently available in commerce. Some of the "extinct" roses are still growing on Cape Cod and elsewhere unlabeled in private gardens. Others exist in public gardens in Europe such as the Roseraiey de L'Hay in France and Sangerhousen in Germany. These public gardens are making their collections available to a small group of collectors to help protect these rare roses from extinction. These collectors of rambler roses have started to release them back into commerce through specialty nurseries that will give them a chance of wider distribution.
Rambler Roses
Rambler roses along a split rail fence in Falmouth

Debutante Lady Blanche
Debutante Lady Blanche
Excelsa Minnehaha
Excelsa Minnehaha
Hiawatha
lady Gay
Hiawatha Lady Gay
Bonnie Belle La Fiamma
Maid Marion La Fiamma
Arcadia Nokomis
Arcadia Nokomis
Snowdrift
Bonnie Belle
Snowdrift Bonnie Belle
Evangeline
Sweetheart
Evangeline Sweetheart

Rose Landscape

Visit the Michael Walsh memorial rose garden in Woods Hole, MA.

Find it just to the right of the Woods Hole Historical Museum.


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Copyright © 2013 Vernon H. Brown