Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Naracoorte’s link to the Fields of Fromelle

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Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News

A bright red rose named Fields of Fromelle is one of Hynam hybridist George Thomson’s most famous roses. It is the first and only Australian bred rose ever to be planted in France.

“The Fields of Fromelle – I did that one for the cemetery in Fromelle – in honour of all the bodies of Australian soldiers,” Mr Thomson said.

“There was a huge battle there in World War I and we lost a lot of men there, thousands of men.”

According to war records, over 5500 Australians were casualties with more than 2000 killed in the battle of Fromelles on July 19, 1916. But not all their bodies were ever found.

“Then maybe five or a few more years ago, a guy was ploughing his paddock, and he started turning up human bones,” Mr Thomson said.

“Then they started digging – there was a mass grave.

“The (the Australian Government) exhumed the bodies they found.

“They got to know most of them through DNA. It was a big job. It must have cost the Australian Government millions of dollars.

“Anyway, I had this red rose at the time and it wasn’t named and I said, ‘Well, this would be a great rose for Fromelle – it’s the right colour and everything’, so that’s what I did.

“It’s growing in France in the big garden beds around Fromelle.

“I don’t get paid for it or anything, I only breed the roses.

“It’s a very good rose. It takes about 10 years to breed a rose like this and to make sure everything is going to be all right with it.

“I breed my roses so they are mainly disease resistant and can withstand the dryer climate.

“These (Fields of Fromelle roses) are very good in hot weather – this weather we have been getting is not very good for my roses, they aren’t used to (cool and rainy summer days).”

The award-winning rose is described in literature by Ross Roses as “an incredible flowering variety balanced with its health and compact bush habit”.

“This variety will in time be considered one of the very best Australian developed roses.”

The Fields of Fromelle was one of many rose varieties bred by Mr Thomson that was recently showcased and celebrated at the World Rose Convention 2022. Mr Thomson is opening his rose garden at Biggins Road, Hynam on Saturday December 17.

Naracoorte Community News 14 December 2022

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

Related story: Life among the roses


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