here for the story of Susan's rose in her own words.
Click here to see the rose and read the plaque in front of La Scala.
Susan Daniel was singing in Palermo during the Spring of 2001
she met the new British Ambassadress to Rome, who wanted to
restore the magnificent five acre gardens of the Residence back
to their original state, with the roses from the 1880s. The
gardens of theVilla Wolkonsky had been laid out by the Polish
aristocrat who built the villa, which is famous for being the
meeting place of Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World
War. The original Roman City Wall runs through the garden.
Susan and the Ambassadress decided to visit the Roseto Comunale,
the City of Rome's rose garden, and regarded by many as the
finest rose garden in the world, in order to learn more about
the rose. They were then both invited to judge the new varieties
of roses in 2002 at the Rome Rose Competition: unfortunately
Susan could not attend because she was singing on the same night
at the Rome Opera, but they repeated the offer in 2003 and she
Susan Daniel in front of La Scala, Milan,
at the foot of Leonardo Da Vinci's statue.
roses and Donato
- the gardener who tends them.
The Roseto Comunale is built on the old Hebrew Cemetery on land
given by the Jewish Community to the City of Rome. In remembrance
of this it is in two parts, the upper being in the shape of
the Menorah or candlestick, whose arms form the paths separating
the different varieties of roses.
When Susan arrived at the competition she was paired with 'Un
Naso', a 'Nose', from Geneva who taught her much about the rose
and the complexities of its perfume. One of Susan's favourite
roses at the event was a beautiful pink climber with a very
distinctive perfume - Compassion by Harkness. Having greatly
enjoyed the day Susan was then invited to judge the other rose
competitions in Baden-Baden, Geneva, Den Haag and Brussels.
While at the Hague, the most important of the annual competitions,
Susan Daniel met Robert Harkness who is the fifth generation
of the distinguished English family of rose breeders and growers.
|The firm of Harkness was started in the 1860s by two young boys, Robert
and John Harkness who saved up their pocket money and bought wallflower
seed for fourpence, selling the plants for two pounds (240 pence now)!
They were awarded the coveted Championship Trophy of the National
Rose Society, for the first time in 1887. One hundred and one years
later John's grandson Jack was awarded the OBE (Order of an Officer
of the British Empire) having won five hundred International awards
for his varieties, and today this work is continued by his son Robert
in both Hitchin in Hertfordshire and Mougins in France, where the
breeding and raising of new varieties continues along with the traditional
Harkness favourites .
The profusion of roses in bloom outside La Scala, Milan
During two days of judging at The Hague, Susan Daniel met all of the
top International rose breeders including Robert Harkness. As the
roses worked their magic, he asked "I am sure that you can make room
in your life for a rose, Susan?"
Asking for her list of favourite
blooms from previous competitions Robert Harkness collected
a selection of three hundred flowers in six varieties from which
Susan Daniel and he chose a single rose to be named after her.
This rose has been in the trial fields in Hitchin for eight
years and her parentage is 'Savoy Hotel' a highly perfumed deep
pink Hybrid Tea, and 'Betty Harkness', the coral pink Floribunda
which Robert and his brother Philip named for their Mother in
1998. Perhaps the most striking quality of Susan's rose is her
transluscence. Her colours are :- ivory outer petals while in
the bud, with lemon at the base, opening to coral and finally
changing through gauzy bronze and copper to gold in late Summer,
in a dramatic transformation. She is disease resistant, does
not need spraying and her subtle perfume is of tangerines, gently
scented with melon.
The rose was launched at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea
Flower Show on Monday, 24th May, 2004.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second has accepted "with great delight",
60 of these roses for a new bed at Buckingham Palace. Susan has planted
one for the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, and there
is one at Canterbury Cathedral, as there will also be in front of
La Scala, Milan. Susan is the only opera singer since Callas to have
a rose named after her. She is also keen to see her rose in the memorial
garden to be built in New York devoted to the English who died on
The sales of Susan's rose will go to help Help
for Heroes, the organisation providing support for soldiers wounded
in current conflicts.
London and Milan, April 2004.
The Susan Daniel Rose was launched on May 24th 2004 at the Chelsea
Flower Show with great success! Please click on the BBC link below
to discover more about Susan's rose:
The City of Milan , at the Mayor's request, planted 100 of Rosa Susan
Daniel around the feet
of the statue of Leonardo da Vinci in front of Teatro alla
Scala in a ceremony on 27th November 2006 - Susan's birthday. This
is the first time that any singer has been honoured in this way. The
rose benefits the charity Help for Heroes.
The rose is already with:
Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace
His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral and
at Lambeth Palace
His Holiness the Pope in the Vatican Gardens and at Castelgandolfo
HRH Prince Charles at Highgrove
HRH the Princess Royal at Gatcombe Park
The City of Rome in the Roseto
Benenden School,Kent (Benenden asked for a background story; click
here to read it.)
Hurlingham School, Putney
Little Angel Puppet Theatre, Islington
Islington Council, Barnsbury Square
La Scala, Milan
The Rose is accompanied by a new CD "La Vie en Rose", available from
the Galleria / Shop page on this site.
Click below to listen to a sample track from the CD - The Seeds of
MP3 WMA RM
rose is available from:
R..HARKNESS & CO
The Rose Garden
Freephone 0800 0268610
Local call 0845
Fax 01462 422170
When Robert Harkness asked me if I would choose a new rose which
was to bear my name, I felt as if something was about to happen,
of which I had always dreamed .
I was silenced .
I felt immensely humbled and deeply grateful that such a glorious
creation could be entering my life. As I watched this rose unfold,
it was her translucence which struck me most, for she opened out
with a radiance that I had never seen before, in a miraculously
luminous combination of ivory, transparent bronze and gold.
I grew up in a great medieval garden full of roses, and I loved
them dearly, intrigued by their beauty, the perfumes, and by their
I was given my second name, Rosalind, after my Grandmother and
my Mother, and early on in my life a rose as my cypher, and later
as my signet ring, yet in my work as a singer, I have always had
to live in the center of cities, with little access to the Nature
with which I spent my childhood, and which had meant so much to
Last year I was invited to judge the International Rose Competition
in Rome, where I had been singing at the Opera, and suddenly a new
and fascinating world opened up to me, one of great beauty and of
wonderful inhabitants. I went on to other competitions, eventually
to Den Haag, where among my co-judges was Robert Harkness, who with
the greatest patience, answered many of my questions as I tried
0Photo courtesy of Charlie Hopkinson
of my life I had been aware of his distinguished family name,
of which he is the fifth generation, and that this name was
synonymous with quality in the breeding of roses ; but I wasn’t
prepared for the series of coincidences which accompanied our
meeting, among them, that the name of the person who had sold
me my house in London, so many years earlier, was the same as
that of Robert’s Father, Jack Harkness, and that the only rose
in my garden which still bears a label, and the only red one,
is that which was named for his great-aunt, Ena Harkness, both
her rose and I, being created in the same year. So the coincidences
followed, one after another, too numerous to mention here.
This collection of songs takes the Rose as its theme and is a reflection
of the many influences on my singing career. The first, completely
unexpected, indication of the direction that my life was to take
came at school, when I won recognition for singing a simple but
very beautiful Somerset folksong, collected by Cecil Sharp. Here,
perhaps the most lovely of all, is the first English folksong ever
to be written down - by him - The Seeds of Love. It was sung by
a Dorset gardener, whose name was John England, and this song, together
with the Celtic songs, are my own roots.
The passionate and radiantly ecstatic Rachmaninov is a great love
from the days when I wanted to spend more time playing his works
as a pianist, than I did studying the physics and pure and applied
maths for which I was destined.
French songs I had studied in Paris with Pierre Bernac, the companion
of Francis Poulenc who composed the haunting, and the haunted, La
Reine de Coeur.
The ravishing Chausson, "Lilac Time", began its life
in this version for voice and piano, although it really belongs
to the orchestral repertoire and begs for that weight of singing,
as does the Granados, whose magical Nightingale was written just
after Stravinsky’s Firebird, yet still belongs to the era of "La
Belle Epoque", and is very different from the delicacy of Chausson’s
Hummingbird. I have loved the Berlioz, "Le Spectre de la Rose"
since singing it at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, as part of
his great song cycle, and dancing with the ballet both before and
The American Charles Ives, I discovered in New York while watching
Maria Callas giving her Master Classes - an experience burnt into
my memory…. the delicious Italian ‘40’s ‘Swing’ number ;….. a string
of Waltzes!… from the quick Viennese ones in the operettas, to Tosti’s
sultry Neapolitan Serenade and his Barcarolle; E.A. Mario’s poignant,
1918...post-war description of the bombed rose beds, and finally,
Ivor Novello’s stylish, "Careless Rapture", from 1936
……all are reflections of my work in the Opera Houses of Vienna,
Munich, Paris and Berlin, Milan, Naples and Rome, where I have always
sung happily, along with the rhythms and echoes of all of the dancing
that has been a vital part of my life, since I was three years old.
They are intended as a celebration of this extraordinarily beautiful
new rose, and of my own joy that such a wonderful creature could
have become part of my life.
I dearly hope, that she will bring as much happiness into the lives
of everyone who experiences her, as she is already bringing to mine.
Milan, March 2004.