Born in Toowoomba, Queensland in 1884, Frank Riethmuller settled in Turramurra on Sydney’s North Shore in 1932. He made a lucrative career at the race track as a bookmaker’s penciller. By 1937 he had a house and garden, and by 1940 he was breeding roses. The best ones came out in his last ten years, 1955–1965.
Most of his roses were hybrid teas (only one has survived) but the Rosa multiflora hybrids he bred in the tradition of the German breeder Peter Lambert have mostly survived and are his main claim to continuing fame. He also bred two successful floribunda roses, including the medal-winning ‘Titian.’
Eric Timewell has written a book about Frank Riethmuller which came out in November 2012. Eric is the sole author (so far) of the Wikipedia entry on Frank Riethmuller. The book is called
Frank Riethmuller: Life and Roses
ISBN 978-0-9873756-0-5, 80 pages in A5 portrait format, paperback, RRP $19.50. It has 29 colour photos and six in black-and-white. Many are historical photos of Riethmuller and his world. Others are intended to show what the roses are really like.
From the book: “Frank was born sick and stayed sick. His mother sold butter and eggs door to door in the town to make ends meet. He always felt himself to be a German and a foreigner, living on the margin of life. Yet in old age he brought out half a dozen of the best roses ever bred in Australia.”
Eric believes bred roses are works of art and reward the methods of art history. Once we get the basic facts right (easy to say but hard to do in a country that doesn’t like to remember things), we see that Riethmuller was highly conscious of his place in both German and North Shore history. His roses respond well to being replanted in their era. They are also enduring victories for technique, flourishing from the Huon Valley to Mackay and forearmed against global warming.
The book has been very favourably reviewed in the winter 2013 issue of the Journal of Heritage Roses in Australia. “Frank Riethmuller: Life and Roses is a valuable book for us all.”
All sales will be handled by Florilegium, 65 Derwent Street, Glebe, NSW 2037; www.florilegium.com.au