Did you know that Princess Grace, the creator of the Monaco Garden Club, cherished roses and orchids? She mirrored the majesty of a lily, the brilliance of a rose and the elegant discretion of forget-me-nots. Respect and passion for flowers was anchored in her heart.
Princess Grace once famously said, «When I took time to look into the heart of a flower, it opened up a whole new world; a world where every walk would be an adventure, where every garden would become an enchanted garden».
I remember an encounter with the Princess one day, in the rose gardens of Villa Sauber, the National Museum of Monaco. She was gently caressing the petals, marvelling at the beauty of rose bushes. She honoured me with a few words, announcing the International Bouquet Competition that she initiated while presiding over the Monaco Garden Club (she created it in 1968). This extremely refined event allows aesthetes and flower lovers to compete with all their imagination and inventiveness. The contestants are asked to make floral arrangements, some of which are nothing short of genuine plant sculptures, on a selected theme (the climate, for the most recent one).
This event is a magnet for enthusiastic crowds of all ages, contemplating the wonders of nature enhanced by the hand of man.
Thousands of roses to surround the sculpture of Princess Grace in the gardens of Fontvieille
A sumptuous rose created by Meilland, the world-famous rose breeder, for the princely wedding of Grace and Rainier in 1956 bears the name of the Princess — «Grace de Monaco». With its strongly scented petals and silvery highlights, this flower blooming beautifully in the Mediterranean gardens conquered Grace’s heart who confessed: «This is the most beautiful of all my wedding gifts».
Years later, in 1981, another flower was presented at the legendary Bal de la Rose. A pearly white, hemmed with vermilion, this marvel in the Monegasque flag colours immediately seduced the Princess. The rose was to be called «Preference». But it was baptized «Princess of Monaco» instead.
Following the tragic death of his wife, Prince Rainier III commissioned a landscaped park in Fontvieille, a rose garden in the Princess’ memory. A collection of roses frames the sculpture by Kees Verkade, immortalizing Princess Grace with a bust in bronze. To her tribute, some 315 varieties of rosebushes are spread over 5000 square metres, illuminating this space of freshness and contemplation.
The Princess loved her roses and orchids — these sumptuous flowers were rivalling her own elegance of heart and spirit. They say that she received some 200,000 orchids from all around the world at the birth of her son, Albert, on March 14, 1958. A legend, perhaps, based on her unconditional passion for flowers and bouquets.