27th July ’17: The blue rose enigma

Hello from Thursday, instapeeps.

When I was six, my mum handed me a catalogue and told me I could choose a rose for our garden. I went for ‘Blue Moon’ because the picture showed a lavender blue-coloured bloom that I’d never seen on rose before. Mum would say how much she hated it because it looked like a ‘funeral rose’ (top tip: expect the unexpected from six-year-old gardeners) but I thought it was superb. In truth I’d hoped for something more true blue, given the name, but blue roses don’t appear in nature without a bit of help. In 2009, after 20 years of research, Japanese scientists at Santory unveiled ‘Applause’, a rose genetically modified to synthesize delphinidin, a pigment in most blue flowers. But even Applause is more lilac/lavender than blue and the company’s pursuit of the bluest of roses continues to this day (although just yesterday it was announced in the journal Science Advances that a Royal Horticultural Society-approved ‘true blue’ GM chrysanthemum has now been created). I guess it’s nature’s way of telling us to grow delphiniums and to look skywards or seawards if we want pure, unmodified blue loveliness. Have a great day and I’ll see you in a bit.

Martha, The Colour File 

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Blue Moon rose
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