A Rose for Our Times

Posted on Wed., May 5, 2021 by Lisa Blackburn

Experts on nomenclature—from Madison Avenue marketing executives to the parents of newborn babies—have long believed that choosing the right name can make all the difference. Rose lovers would certainly agree.

So, when a chance to name a new rose at The Huntington was offered as part of a spring fundraising campaign called “Sharing the Love,” there was excitement as well as some trepidation among the Botanical staff. “A good name is really important for a rose, and I was afraid we’d get a bad one,” said Tom Carruth, the E. L. and Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose Collections. He could recall several less-than-lovely trade names that had been bestowed on rose hybrids over the years, negatively affecting their popularity.

Carruth needn’t have worried. The opportunity to name the new rose was purchased through a generous donation by Toshie Mosher, a member of The Huntington’s Board of Governors, and she had something inspiring in mind. The name Mosher chose for the pink-and-white floribunda embodies a sentiment that speaks eloquently to this moment in time and expresses what must surely be a universal longing.

She named the rose ‘Peace & Harmony’.

Toshie Mosher.

Toshie Mosher, born in Hiroshima, Japan, says that “a wish for peace is a dream that has always stayed with me.” The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Aric Allen.

“I felt so fortunate to have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of naming a rose, with my husband Frank's enthusiastic support,” said Mosher. “I have always loved and admired many different kinds of roses. Now I am happy to be connected to a beautiful rose in a different way.”

The timing was significant, too. “This year is our 55th wedding anniversary, so this rose is a special way for us to celebrate.”

In choosing a name, Mosher was motivated by several important factors, one of which was the current state of the world. A global pandemic, racial injustice, hate crimes, violence, and uncertainty about the future have left us all yearning for a more stable and equitable way forward. “There is so much turmoil and conflict, and we need something beautiful to appreciate,” she explained. “I wanted to send a message of the importance of peace and harmony during this turbulent time.”

Personal considerations shaped her choice, as well, including the philanthropic connection she and her husband have with The Huntington’s historic Japanese Garden. The Moshers were among the major contributors to the garden’s renovation in 2012. “The most important elements in the landscape of a Japanese garden are peacefulness and harmony with nature. I remember how, after 9/11, friends said visiting the garden gave them a feeling of peace. I have felt that, too.

The Japanese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Moshers’ philanthropic connection to The Huntington’s Japanese Garden, where harmony with nature instills a sense of peace, helped inspire the new rose’s name. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Martha Benedict.

“And I was born in Hiroshima, Japan,” she added quietly. “I was six years old when the atomic bomb was dropped. I vividly remember that moment, and the tragic scenes that followed. So, that firsthand experience taught me the importance of world peace, and I was brought up seeking it.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time that a rose has been adopted as an emblem of peace. During World War II, a new seedling developed by the Meilland family in France was hurriedly sent out of the country shortly before the German invasion. It was propagated by a grower in the United States, who dubbed the new variety ‘Peace’. At the inaugural meeting of the United Nations, bouquets were delivered to each of the delegations with a note that read “We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.” It has since become one of the most famous and beloved roses in the world.

As for ‘Peace & Harmony’, there could hardly be a flower more likely to unite public sentiment in a positive way. It satisfies on all points, Carruth believes. “The large, old-fashioned form and unusual two-toned color draw the eye; the intense fragrance delights the nose; and the name touches the heart.”

A white, pink, and yellow hued rose in full-bloom covered in dew drops.

An earlier rose hybrid that inspired a desire for unity and healing was the popular variety ‘Peace’, which commemorated the end of World War II. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Anyone who has visited The Huntington’s three-acre Rose Garden in springtime will undoubtedly agree that roses have the power to move us. Part of that emotional response may be due to the memories and associations roses conjure up in our minds—and if two of those associations are “peace” and “harmony,” Mosher will be well pleased.

“I do hope the new rose will help bring people peace of mind, and that it will inspire them to create more harmonious unity here and around the world.”

Visitors seeking ‘Peace & Harmony’ can find it in the Rose Garden’s Huntington Heritage bed, located just left (to the east) of the pergola as you enter from the Shakespeare Garden. The rose bears a temporary label designating it an “unnamed seedling,” pending a formal ceremony that will be held privately later this spring. Hybridized by Weeks Roses and purchased outright by The Huntington, ‘Peace & Harmony’ will not be available in the commercial rose trade but will be sold exclusively at Huntington plant sales, beginning in Spring 2022.

The Rose Garden displays flowers in full blooms of yellow, red, pink, white, and more.

Visitors can experience more than 1,200 varieties currently in bloom in the Rose Garden. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Toshie Mosher passed away on January 27, 2022 and is missed by The Huntington community. The ‘Peace and Harmony’ Rose is forever a reminder of Toshie’s generosity and kind spirit for all visitors to enjoy.”

Lisa Blackburn is senior editor and special projects manager in the Office of Communications and Marketing at The Huntington.