Georges Seguin
Georges Seguin

12 Beautiful Celebrity Roses

Georges Seguin
Georges Seguin

As spring arrives and the rose bushes begin to bud up, what better time is there to look at pictures of gorgeous roses? While looking at pictures, I found some interesting stories behind some of the many rose cultivars that have been named for celebrities. Feast your eyes on the beauty of a dozen of them.

1. President Herbert Hoover

Photograph by Roland zh.

Rose breeder Gene Boerner developed a rose that displayed a gaudy combination of orange, pink, and yellow that won a gold medal at New York's International Flower show in 1929. Inspired by Herbert Hoover's 1928 campaign slogan, "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," Boerner named the cultivar President Herbert Hoover. By the time the rose went on sale in 1930, the Great Depression had reared its ugly head, and the rose did not sell well. Boerner learned a lesson, and later advised other growers not to name roses after politicians.

2. Julia Child

Photograph by Stickpen.

Plant breeder Tom Carruth has developed more All-American roses than anyone else. HIs yellow floribunda rose Julia Child won All-American honors in 2006. Chef Julia Child herself selected the rose to be named in her honor before she died in 2004. The rose is sold by Weeks Roses.

3. Ingrid Bergman

Photograph by Flying jacket.

The Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman died of cancer in 1982. It wasn't long afterward that she was honored with a rose cultivar. The World Federation of Rose Societies named the rose known as Ingrid Bergman the "World Favourite Rose" in 2000, and inducted it into their Hall of Fame. It was developed by Pernille and Mogens Olesen of the Danish rose company Poulson in 1983 and has won numerous awards in the years since it was introduced in 1984. The patent for the rose has expired, so it can be grown from cuttings and propagated, but the company registered a trademark on the name, so propagated roses cannot be sold under the name Ingrid Bergman.

4. Dolly Parton

Photograph by Flickr user audreyjm529.

The Dolly Parton rose was developed by Joe Winchell in the basement of his home, where he experimented with growing roses under plant lights through the winter. It was introduced in 1984. The orange-red hybrid tea rose is as colorful and spicy as its namesake. Parton reportedly was flattered that a rose was named after her, as she thought a wildflower might have been more appropriate. Her namesake roses grow at Parton's home and at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

5. Lynn Anderson

Photo credit: Getty Images

Lynn Anderson's biggest hit was the 1970 song "Rose Garden," which was #1 on Billboard's country chart for five weeks and reached #3 on their pop chart. Joe Winchell of the American Rose Society cultivated a hybrid tea rose that became known as Lynn Anderson in 1995.

6. Betty White

Finding information on the Betty White rose by search is difficult, because Betty White played a character named Rose in The Golden Girls TV series. Also, there are a lot of white roses. The hybrid tea rose was introduced by Meilland International under the name André le Nôtre in 2001. It was imported to the US in 2004 and renamed Betty White. This rose is old-fashioned, vigorous, and sweet—just like our favorite comedienne.

7. Marie Curie

Photograph by Georges Seguin

The Marie Curie rose was bred by Alain Meilland of Meilland International in 2003. It was introduced in Belgium as the White Marie Curie in 2006, but as you can see, it comes in colors, too.

8. Natasha Richardson

Photo credit: Getty Images

Actress Natasha Richardson died in 2009 in a skiing accident in Quebec. In 2011, her mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, was at the Chelsea Flower Show for a ceremony to unveil the new cultivar named Natasha Richardson. All proceeds of the sales of the light pink rose go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The rose is grown exclusively by UK grower Harkness.

9. Mark Twain

Photograph by Richard Huber AG.

American writer Mark Twain has been honored with schools, buildings, awards, and even an asteroid named after him, so why not a rose? The Mark Twain rose was bred by Richard Huber in Switzerland and named in 2000. It is described as a good rose to cut, and quite durable as well as sweetly-scented.

10. Pope John Paul II

Photograph by Stickpen.

Pope John Paul II died in 2005, after reigning for 27 years. In 2006, rose company Jackson & Perkins worked with the Vatican to develop a white hybrid tea rose named for the late pontiff. Ten bushes were planted at the Vatican, and the company gives 10 percent of the proceeds to the Vatican, which they designated for a charity to aid sub-Saharan Africans.

11. Liv Tyler

Meilland International was commissioned by Givenchy Perfumes to create a rose to be used in a new perfume. The rose was developed in 2001 and the perfume, Very Irresistable, was introduced in 2003. In 2005, the rose cultivar was named after actress Liv Tyler, who was Givenchy's new spokesperson at the time. Tyler still works for Givenchy.   

12. Freddie Mercury

Photograph from Amazon.

A tribute to the singer who died in1991, the Freddie Mercury was introduced in 1994 by Eric Stainthorpe of Battersby Roses. The pink, yellow, and apricot rose is related to the Tina Turner rose. Members of the Freddie Mercury fan club raised £2,000 to name a rose in his honor. The first official bushes were given to his relatives and close friends.

See also: Daffodils Mean Spring is Coming!

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8 Surprising Uses for Peeps
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You can eat marshmallow Peeps, and you can put them in someone's Easter basket. But that's just the beginning of what you can do with those small blobs of sugary goodness. Branch out and use your Peeps in new ways this year.

1. S'MORES

Peeps are marshmallows, and can be toasted over a campfire just like their plain, non-sugar-coated brothers—which means you can make classic S'mores out of them. Best of all: You don't even need a campfire to do it. Serious Eats has a recipe for them that they call S'meeps, which only requires that you pop them in the oven for a short time. If you're a Peeps purist, forget the graham crackers and chocolate and enjoy the unique taste of campfire-toasted Peeps all by themselves.

2. WREATHS

Vanessa Brady at Tried & True has made several Peeps wreaths that are sure to inspire you to do the same. (She even has a tutorial to get you started.)

3. PEEPS-KABOBS

If you want to trick a kid into eating a fruit salad, just serve it up on a stick—with a marshmallow Peep in the middle. Blogger Melodramatic Mom made these for an irresistible after-school snack for her kids.

4. ART SUPPLIES

With their consistent shape and size, and variety of bright colors, Peeps can be used as pixels for larger artworks. Ang Taylor made this Mario jumping a Piranha Plant out of marshmallow chicks and bunnies. To be honest, there are many ways Peeps can be used as an art medium, as we've seen many times before (like in this collection of Peeps dioramas).

5. CAKE TOPPERS

Peeps chicks and bunnies are ready-made decorations that will easily stick to cake frosting and make for desserts that are both seasonal and colorful. If you need a recipe, check out this one for a Marbled Cake with Peeps and M&Ms. See some more cake decorating tips here.

6. PEEPS POPS

There's no danger of misshapen cake pops or drippy lollipops when you start with a Peep on a stick. Michelle from Sugar Swings made these candy pops out of marshmallow Peeps, and using Peeps left her plenty of time to decorate them as Star Wars characters. Michelle has plenty of other Peeps pops ideas you can try out, too.

7. PEEPS KRISPIES TREATS

We've seen that Peeps can be substituted for marshmallows in recipes, but remember that Peeps come in a variety of colors and can be bought in small batches. That makes them really useful for coloring separate portions of your Rice Krispies treat recipe. Kristen at Yellowblissroad has a recipe for Layered Peeps Crispy Treats, and a video of the process at Facebook.

8. DIORAMAS

Using Peeps as characters in a diorama, where you can let your imagination run wild, has become somewhat of an Easter tradition. Kate Ramsayer, Helen Fields, and Joanna Church put their heads together to recreate the Broadway musical Hamilton in marshmallow with a diorama that featured the lyrics to the show's opening number.

While The Washington Post has suspended its annual Peeps Diorama Contest after 10 years, other newspapers—including the Twin Cities Pioneer Press and the Washington City Paper—plus local libraries across the country are carrying on the tradition and holding Peeps diorama contests. But you don't have to enter a contest to have fun making a scene with your family.

This piece originally ran in 2017.

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The Bloody Benders, America's First Serial Killer Family
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In 1870, a group of new families moved to the wind-ravaged plains near what would become Cherryvale, Kansas. They were Spiritualists, a religion that was foreign to the homesteaders already in the new state, but locals tended to accept newcomers without asking too many questions. Two of the families moved away within a year, discouraged by the difficult conditions, and the others kept to themselves. But the Benders were different.

At first, they appeared be a normal family. John Bender, Sr., and his troupe settled near the Great Osage Trail (later known as the Santa Fe Trail) over which innumerable travelers passed on their way to the West. The older Bender, called "Pa," made a claim for 160 acres in what is now Labette County. His son John (sometimes called Thomas) claimed a smaller parcel that adjoined Pa's land, but never lived on or worked it. The Benders also included "Ma" and a daughter named Kate, who advertised herself as Spiritualist medium and healer. Ma and Pa reportedly mostly spoke German, although the younger Benders spoke fluent English.

The group soon built a one-room home equipped with a canvas curtain that divided the space into two areas. The front was a public inn and store, and the family quarters were in the back. Travelers on the trail were welcome to refresh themselves with a meal and resupply their wagons with liquor, tobacco, horse feed, gunpowder, and food. Kate, who was reportedly attractive and outgoing, also drew customers to the inn with her supposed psychic and healing abilities. These men, who usually traveled alone, often spent the night.

The trail was a dangerous place, and there were many reasons for travelers to go missing on their way out West—bandits, accidents, conflicts with Native Americans, disease. But over the course of several years, more and more people went missing around the time they passed through Labette County. It usually took time for such disappearances to draw attention—mail and news traveled slowly—but that all changed in March 1873 after a well-known physician from Independence, Kansas, named Dr. William York seemingly disappeared after getting off the train at Cherryvale. Dr. York had two powerful brothers who were determined to find out what happened to him: Colonel Edward York and Kansas Senator Alexander York.

Colonel York led an investigation in Labette County. When questioned, the Benders denied all knowledge of York's disappearance, although Ma Bender "flew into a violent passion," in the words of The Weekly Kansas Chief, when asked about a report of a woman who had been threatened with pistols and knives at their inn. Ma defended herself by claiming that the visitor had been a witch, a "bad and wicked woman, whom she would kill if ever she came near them again.”

Around the same time, the township held a meeting at the Harmony Grove schoolhouse; both male Benders were in attendance. The townsfolk decided to search every homestead for evidence of the missing—but the weather turned bad, and it was several days before a search could begin.

Eventually, a neighbor noticed starving farm animals wandering the Bender property. When he investigated the inn, he found it empty: The Benders had fled. The volunteers who later arrived for the search noted that the Benders' wagon was gone; little else had been taken from the home besides food and clothing.

Though the house was empty, all else seemed normal—until someone opened a trap door in the floor. What they found beneath it was chilling.

The trap door, located behind the curtain in the Benders' private quarters, led to a foul-smelling cellar, which was drenched with blood. Horrified, the group lifted up the cabin from its foundations and dug into the ground, yet found nothing. The investigation then turned to the garden, which was freshly plowed; neighbors recalled that the garden always seemed freshly plowed.

Working through the night, the volunteers first unearthed York's body. The back of his head had been smashed, and his throat slit. Soon, they found more bodies with similar injuries. Accounts differ about the number of bodies excavated from the site, but totals hover around a dozen. In all, the Benders may have committed as many as 21 murders. Their terrible work garnered the family only a few thousand dollars and some livestock.

Investigators later pieced together the group's modus operandi. It's believed that guests at the inn were urged to sit against the separating curtain, and while dining, would be hit on the head with a hammer from behind the curtain. Their body was then dropped into the trap door to the cellar, where one of the Benders slit their unfortunate victim's throat before stripping the body of its valuables.

One man, a Mr. Wetzell, heard this theory and remembered a time when he had been at the inn and declined to sit in the designated spot near the curtain. His decision had caused Ma Bender to become angry and abusive toward him, and when he saw the male Benders emerge from behind the cloth, he and his companion decided to leave. A traveler named William Pickering told an almost identical story.

The crimes created a sensation in the newspapers, drawing journalists and curiosity-seekers from all over the country. "Altogether the murders are without a parallel," read an account reprinted in The Chicago Tribune. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported over 3000 people at the crime scene, with more trains arriving. A book published in Philadelphia soon after the murders were discovered, The Five Fiends, or, The Bender Hotel Horror in Kansas, described how "large numbers of people arrived upon the scene, who had heard of the ... diabolical acts of bloody murder and rapacious robbery. Hardened men were moved to tears." The house in which the murders took place was disassembled and carried away piece by piece by souvenir seekers.

1873 stereographic photo of the excavated grave of a victim of the Bender murders
An 1873 photo of the excavated grave of a victim of the Bender murders

Senator York offered a $1000 reward for the Benders, and the governor chipped in another $2000, but the reward was never claimed. In the years following the sensational crimes, several women were arrested as Ma or Kate, but none were positively identified. A number of vigilante groups claimed to have found the Benders and murdered them, but none brought back proof. The older Benders were allegedly seen on their way to St. Louis by way of Kansas City, and the younger Benders were supposedly seen heading to an outlaw colony on the border of Texas and New Mexico, but no one knows what ultimately became of them.

Investigators were likely hampered by the group’s deceit: None of the Benders were actually named Bender, and the only members who were likely related were Ma and her daughter Kate. "Pa" was reportedly born John Flickinger in the early 1800s in either Germany or the Netherlands. "Ma" is said to have been born Almira Meik, and her first husband named Griffith, with whom she had 12 children. Ma was married several times before marrying Pa, but each husband before him reportedly died of head wounds. Her daughter Kate was born Eliza Griffith. John Bender, Jr.'s real name was John Gebhardt, and many who knew them in Kansas said he was Kate's husband, not her brother.

Today, nothing remains to indicate the exact location where the Bender house stood, although there is a historical marker at a nearby rest area. Though rumors still surround the case—some say Ma murdered Pa over stolen property soon after they fled, others that Pa committed suicide in Lake Michigan in 1884—after 140 years, we will probably never know what really happened to the Bloody Benders.

A version of this story originally ran in 2013.

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