Matjaž Kmecl is a former politician, a prolific writer, and a member of the prestigious Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a passionate flower breeder who had long been determined to breed a rose as an homage to France Prešeren, a 19th century Romantic poet whose works helped to keep the Slovenian literary language alive in an era of German domination.
Kmecl’s initial efforts were promising, and he had hoped to introduce the new cultivar for the 200th anniversary of Prešeren’s birth in 2000. But the flowers were not resilient enough, and Kmecl had to begin the process anew.
He refused to give up, however, and he finally managed to crossbreed four varieties of roses to create something unique. A cultivar worthy of the legendary poet was born: a healthy plant with spectacular pink blossoms. Kmecl’s variety was soon registered with various European associations and the prestigious American Rose Society. It was officially unveiled to the public in 2008.
In 2013, one of the Prešeren roses was planted in the poet’s home village of Vrba. Meanwhile, Kmecl, never content to rest on his laurels, has come up with a new, related rose cultivar. He named it after Primož Trubar, the 15th century publisher and author of the first Slovenian-language printed book – another historic figure who helped preserve the Slovenian language against all odds.