Doubly delightful

Herbert Cecil Swim (1906-1989) hit it out of the park in 1976 when he created the Double Delight rose.

Mr. Swim, of Mister Lincoln fame, another colorful and fragrant rose developed a decade earlier, worked for Armstrong Nurseries in San Bernardino, California, and created this splendid hybrid tea rose by cross-breeding the red and yellow Granada and the ivory Garden Party. Swim scored again by coining the perfect name for a dual-colored rose with such a delightful, spicy, rich perfume. The year it was introduced, Swim’s rose won gold medals in Rome and Baden-Baden, and a fragrance award in Geneva.

The only reason I even know the name of this rose or gave it a second thought (or sniff) is that my mother invariably placed a single, large, incredibly fragrant Double Delight in an elegant Steuben vase on my bedside table when I would come home to California for a visit in the early 1980s. How could I not notice? She was so proud of each bloom she’d snip from a weathered cedar planter in the patio, inhaling a long draught of its perfume, and gush about the creamy, often double centers, the carmine red edges, and deep green leaves. “They’re so very special, don’t you think?” she would say.

For many years now, we’ve had our own Double Delight rosebush out front that thrives all year long with little tending but produces the same doubly delightful blooms that fill the house with that-oh-so-familiar and well-loved fragrance.