How the roses at the Greater Atlanta Rose Show get their names

There’s even a few with local connections
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“Ann’s Beautiful Daughter.” “Champagne Elegance.” “Flying Doctor ’03.”

Visitors to the Greater Atlanta Rose Show (May 7-8), hosted by the Greater Atlanta Rose Society on Mother’s Day weekend, might notice that the floral competitors can have rather unusual monikers. The American Rose Society is there to judge every stem’s form and shape, and they also have the final say on approving rose names.

So how exactly does a flower come to be known as “Foxy Lady,” “Dolly Parton,” or “El Presidente”? After years of developing the perfect rose specimen, the hybridizer submits a name request to the American Rose Society’s registration committee. If the rose is being named for a person, the submission always requires a letter of authorization, whether the namesake is a celebrity or not. (The registration committee also will not approve names with any profanity.)

Until the mid-20th century, most roses were named only for royalty, but that changed around the 1950s. Today, so long as the rose meets the requirements, the hybridizer receives a patent to make it official. A few roses even have local connections.

Coretta Scott King roseCoretta Scott King Rose
The rose was unveiled in 2013 at the King Center in commemoration of what would’ve been King’s 86th birthday.

Rosalynn Carter RoseRosalynn Carter Rose
You can find this coral-red rose, introduced in March 1978, in the Gardens of the Carter Presidential Center.

Frankly Scarlet RoseFrankly Scarlet
Registered in 2007, this bright red rose pays homage to the protagonist of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (never mind the missing t).

Photography credits: King: Image Collect/Bill Holz/Globe Photos; Carter: Image Collect/Michael Ferguson/Globe Photos; Scarlett: Everett Collection; Illustrations by Kendyll Hillegas

This article originally appeared in our May 2016 issue.

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