Peter Beales introduced this gallica in 1982, just before James Mason’s death in 1984. James Mason, a well-known British actor, was an avid rosarian and a lover of cats. He and his wife, Pamela, wrote a book about their cats and James illustrated it. Due to his keen interest in roses, the James Mason Medal is granted in his honor by the Royal National Rose Society to a rose that has given special pleasure over the past fifteen years. Winners include ‘Elina’ in 1994 and ‘Freedom’ in 1997.
The rose named for him is very handsome and sophisticated in a style that reminds us of his many roles in films. His voice was distinctive and propelled him into important roles from Shakespeare (Brutus in Julius Caesar) to leading roles in modern dramas. He was considered for the lead in the James Bond films that was later filled by Sean Connery. Mason was not formally trained in acting but studied architecture at Cambridge and joined some theatrical productions there and went to the Old Vic Theater in London for the beginning of a stage career. He could play a sinister villain, the anti-hero character or the obsessed Humbert Humbert in Lolita! These roles earned him three nominations for an Academy Award that he sadly did not win.
The ‘James Mason’ rose certainly attracts attention due to its brilliant scarlet petals. Gallicas are an old garden rose class that were popular in the 1800s. Very few modern hybrid gallicas have been introduced and this one is very successful. It is reported to be easy to propagate from its suckers. It is a star of a rose named for a brilliant actor.
Breeder: Peter Beales, 1982
Class: Hybrid Gallica
Color: Rich scarlet crimson with a center of golden anthers
Bloom: 5 inches across, in clusters of three, semi-double, once per year in mid-summer
Foliage: Luxuriant light to medium green, disease resistant
Shrub size: 5 to 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, larger than most Gallicas
Fragrance: Strong scent, with sweet overtones
Parentage: ‘Scharlachglut’ (Scarlet Fire) x ‘Tuscany Superb’
By Frank Treadway, Consulting Rosarian
Edited for the website by N Londeree, October 2021