A week or so ago I commented on the names of roses and the stories behind them.

Then I made one up, because I could find nothing about the name:

Who was the real ‘Madame Ernest Calvat’? 

This time I don’t have to.


 Born in the early 1800’s, the son of a cornish estate carpenter, William Lobb became  a gardener and ultimately attracted the attention of the famous Exeter nurseryman James Veitch. The enterprising Veitch, keen to expand his nursery’s catalogue, sent Lobb to The Americas to collect plants.

Although he made countless discoveries of his own, one of his key achievements was the locating and despatch to UK of sufficient quantities of seed of both Monkey Puzzle and Wellingtonia to enable Veitch to promote these two trees as the sexy trees for planting in Victorian times.

These two trees still have a significant impact on estates in the UK to this day

Despite his considerable success as one of the most notable plant collectors ever , Lobb cut an increasingly lonely figure. And, probably sickening from syphillis, ended his days in San Francisco, where he died alone in 1864 and was buried in a public plot with no mourners. 

Rosa ‘William Lobb’ was named after him by its French breeder, Jean Laffay, in 1855, after his great successes and as he stood on the cusp of his slow decline.

Rosa ‘William Lobb’:

David Austin, (and is there any greater authority?) says of this rose:

‘Dark crimson, quickly fading to a pleasing violet-grey. A tall robust rose; at its best at the back of the border, mingling well with other shrubs. Plenty of moss. Rich perfume. The best and healthiest of the mosses.’

We would agree with its health and vigour. As you will see from the photo we like a yew hedge behind it.

You can buy ‘William Lobb’ from David Austin for £11.49 a throw through the David Austin website and why would you not?

As for William Lobb, google good old Wikipaedia and read the story.

Not bad going for a carpenter’s son in Victorian England!