top of page
  • Writer's pictureMarie Ohanesian Nardin

Thanks to Vita Sackville-West a special rose flourishes in my garden.

Souvenir du Docteur Jamain

Originally bred by François Lacharme - France, 1865

Much can be said about the pros and cons of social networks, but because of them I discovered something very interesting about a certain breed of roses we planted in our garden 15 years ago. Chosen from our

landscaper's/gardener's collection because of its soft, old rose scent and deep velvety color, he nor I knew its proper name. Then, just a few days ago and right before this first bloom of 2023 blossomed, an interesting post about this very rose was made on a FB "rose group" a dear friend very recently invited me to join.

I made further inquires there and elsewhere, and it seems this breed that continues to bring grace to my garden and to many other gardens around the globe can be solely attributed to the work of Vita Sackville-West, English author and garden designer, which she began when renovating Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens, Kent U.K., in the 1930s:

"Souvenir du Docteur Jamain is an old fashioned hybrid perpetual which I am rather proud of having rescued from extinction. I found him growing against the office wall of an old nursery. No one knew what he was; no one seemed to care; no one knew his name; no one had troubled to propagate him. Could I dig him up I asked? Well, if you like to risk it, they said, shrugging their shoulders; it’s a very old plant, with a woody, stiff root. I risked it; Docteur Jamain survived his removal; and now has a flourishing progeny in my garden and also on the market of certain rosarians to whom I gave him. Docteur Jamain is a deep red, not very large flowers, but so sweetly and sentimentally scented. Some writers would call it nostalgically scented, meaning everything that burying one’s nose into the heart of a rose meant in one’s childhood, or in one’s adolescence when one first discovered poetry, or the first time one fell in love." Vita Sackville-West (1892 – 1962)

Click to read more interesting information about Ms. Sackville-West's Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens Kent, UK




Souvenir du Docteur Jamain

Origin: Bred by François Lacharme (France, 1865)

Breed salvaged by Vita Sackville-West (Sissinghurst Castle 1930s)

46 views0 comments
  • Writer's pictureMarie Ohanesian Nardin

Today, April 25th, is a special day throughout Italy and particularly in Veneto, so I'd like to share a post I wrote some years ago on my former blog Italy to Los Angeles and Back. The text is still pertinent today:

Not only is April 25th the anniversary of Italy’s liberation during

World War II in 1945 from Nazi fascism rule, it’s also the day commemorating Venice’s patron saint, St. Mark. San Marco, as he is proudly referred to around town, is represented in Venice as the winged lion, often holding an open book with the Latin inscription Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus—Peace to You Mark My Evangelist. The regal lion can be found in the most conspicuous places around the city and region of Venice, and can still be seen carved into the historical walls of foreign ports scattered around the Adriatic and Mediterranean were La Serenissima—the Most Serene Republic of Venice once ruled.

How Saint Mark came to rest in Venice: It is said that in 828 A.D. due to the tension and the mercenary competition between La Serenissima and the Islamic regions to the south, the remains of Saint Mark were taken from Alexandria, Egypt and smuggled onto a boat stocked with pork meat. Not the most noble means of travel, particularly for a Saint, but quite an ingenuous idea on the part of two Venetian mariners—Bon or Good from Malamocca and Andrea known as Rustico or Rustic from Torcello. The shrewd captain and his first-mate knew that hiding dear Saint Mark among a bunch of ham hocks would keep the non-pork consuming Islamic customs agents from further investigating their cargo, and open up their nautical route back home to Venice, and a heroes’ welcome. In fact it is written that Doge Giustinian paid them 100 pounds of silver; a large sum that would enable them to finance the construction of St. Mark’s oratory on the island of Torcello, and become Venetian legends.

Il Bòcolo - The Rosebud

Shakespeare couldn’t have written a better tale.

There once was a noble young woman by the name of Maria Partecipazio who fell fast in love with a kind, yet poor troubadour named Tancredi. Of course that didn’t sit well with Maria’s father. So one night while the two were having a clandestine rendezvous in her family’s gondola, Maria whispered the perfect solution into her handsome poet’s ear. Tancre, she syllabled quietly so as not to be heard by the family gondolier if you were to join the military and become a war hero then I’m sure my father would let you marry me! Well the poor guy was pretty smitten and knowing a troubadour made fewer ducats than a soldier he followed his true love's suggestion.

Before he knew it he was part of Carlo Magno’s distinct order and fighting the tough battle against the Spanish Moors. But, as all good tragedies go, he never made it back. What happened was that while he was fighting the good fight—apparently in a garden—he was injured and fell on a bed of white roses, turning them deep red. Minutes before he expelled his last breath he plucked a long-stem rose from the bush and handed it to his companion and fighter of the cause, Orlando. It took all the strength Tancredi had to ask Orlando to deliver the rose tinged with his blood to his beloved Maria.

Soon after, Orlando arrived back in Venice; it was April 24th and the eve of the patron Saint’s celebration. In keeping with his promise, Orlando delivered the rose to Maria along with Tancredi’s final message of love. Nowhere is it written, but it is understood that Maria was quite distraught for having sent the only man she loved off to war, and to his death. The following morning, on the 25th of April, the young noble woman was found dead with Tancredi’s rosebud placed upon her heart.

From that moment on il bòcolo became the Venetian symbol to pledge one’s love and each year on April 25th thousands of maidens, young and old, are handed a long-stem red rose by their enamored knights.

Buona Festa della Liberazione - Buona Festa di San Marco!

42 views0 comments
  • Writer's pictureMarie Ohanesian Nardin

My last email was to be "my last email", and the closing of my website. Then made me an offer to keep it going which I won't refuse. I hope continuing to be in contact this way brings you pleasure too. Please stay in touch and accompany me as I move further into the

Sommelier world. I've completed the AssoSommelier first course and will attend the 2nd & 3rd courses beginning this January, ending with a formal exam in November/December 2023.

Yikes! I can't remember the last time I took an exam. And, I'm always writing. I've recently begun a straight forward memoire. The Covid stall has brought an avalanche of eye-opening personal awareness to many of us. I digest such matters through writing. It'll take the time necessary. But this one is important for me to write too. And, soon Roberto and I are headed to Sicily, and the post-Covid (re)kick-start of the restoration of our home in Sambuca di Sicilia. Over the next (probably many) months there will be lots to do and share with you there too! I hope reading about these moments brings you half the pleasure it brings to me when I write about them, and that you will continue to reach out to me through comments and messages in return.

I sincerely love to receive and read your thoughts! In the meantime, thank you for staying, responding, and sharing.

A presto, Marie

164 views3 comments
bottom of page