What’s in a name?
For this rose, a lot.
Coretta Scott King, the widow of the the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a civil rights activist in her own right, now has a rose that bears her name.
The rose will make its debut Saturday in observance of what would have been King’s 86th birthday. The founder of the King Center died in January 2006.
“Mom certainly had a true love for art and culture and certainly loved roses,” said Martin Luther King III, her son and a member of the King Center board.
The center will hold a free event at 10:30 a.m. that will include tributes, musical performances and a wreath-laying and planting ceremony.
King is hardly the first famous person to have a rose carry her name. Singers, a chef, presidents and even a pope precede her. She joins such notables as Pope John Paul II, Barbra Streisand and Abraham Lincoln.
The Coretta Scott King rose has a moderate “spicy tea fragrance,” said Dave Rife, senior horticulturist for the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “It’s not exactly sweet per se, but it is a pleasing smell. In our observation thus far, it is a good rose.”
He noted the size of the bloom and the deep green, almost glossy foliage.
In addition to the King Center, the rose will also be planted at other sites including the Georgia State Capitol, Morehouse and Spelman colleges, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Dexter Avenue Memorial Baptist Church and in her native Marion, Ala.
On May 9, the rose will make its grand appearance at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
“She was such a beautiful person inside and out and she blossomed as a rose,” said Evelyn Gibson Lowery, founder of SCLC/Women and a longtime friend. “The two of us continued to work in the movement to help young people and bring about peace. She exuded peace and goodness. Those things remind you of a rose.”
The rose was hybridized by Christian Bédard of Weeks Roses and will be available for consumers in the 2014 season at independent garden centers and merchant chains. Currently, it is available at the wholesale level and through Edmunds’ Roses.
Edmunds’ describes the rose as “reminiscent of a Creamsicle treat, long, pointed buds spiral open to reveal creamy white blooms blushed with tropical tones of coral-orange.”
Heather Vosberg, catalog manager for Edmunds’ Roses, said the rose costs $24.95, but there have not been as many orders yet as the company had hoped.
“Word just isn’t out yet that it’s available,” she said.