This year more than ever, as we have been confined to our homes while the natural world flourishes around us, we are reminded of the wonders of nature. Spring is a time of hope and optimism, when bird song crescendos and flowers greet us with heady scent and vibrant colour. As we approach the first ever online RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Rolls-Royce looks a little closer to home and reflects on a Bespoke and storied rose, preparing for an abundant bloom.
In the courtyard of the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex, a rare flower ? the Phantom Rose ? is cultivated. Bred solely for the marque as a source of inspiration, Rolls-Royce's Global Centre of Luxury Manufacturing Excellence is the only place in the world where this rose can be found.
British Rose breeder Philip Harkness, of the award-winning Harkness Roses, bred the Phantom Rose especially for the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective. His family has been breeding roses since 1879, establishing a tradition of beautiful blooms associated with the Harkness name. Today, plants and flowers bred by Harkness Roses remain a constant favourite on the international horticultural scene, winning gold at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show more than 25 times in the last 50 years.
On commissioning the rose, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer Sina-Maria Eggl, commented, "The rose had to embody Rolls-Royce's poise, elegance and allure. The result was a very pure, delicate but voluminous white flower: sensual, but strong in presence, with an alluring aroma and extra winter durability."
The Phantom Rose grows in a specially designed bed, fringed with lavender, running alongside the reflection ponds adjacent to the marque's award-winning Sir Nicholas Grimshaw plant. Indeed, it is no coincidence that both Rolls-Royce associates and the marque's Bespoke Designers can view the rose bed through the plant's floor-to-ceiling glass as they work.
The Phantom Rose is a blousy, creamy-white flower, offering a full bloom of 50 petals and a rich perfume. Harkness describes it as a quintessentially English rose, which took eight years to develop. It was, he says, a labour of love. "A rose has the ability to captivate you on many levels. It is a thing of beauty, it can stimulate the senses with wonderful perfume, the soft touch of the petals or the rasping pain from a thorn. It touches our emotions, signifies love and appears in some of our finest poetry. How can a simple flower live up to this expectation? The rose that Rolls-Royce has commissioned makes easy work of the task. Observe the glory of the bloom. There can be few more enjoyable experiences, thanks to the unending generosity and diversity of nature captured in one single rose."
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