Swiss Icon Ursula Andress Lends Her Name To A Botanical Blossom
On 4 August 2009, a crowd approximately 300 strong gathered on the steps of the Boggy Peak, Antigua and Barbuda’s highest mountain, to celebrate a special moment in the history of this small Caribbean nation and indeed in the history of the world. The object of their collective interest was a 402-metre rock formation about to be renamed Mount Obama. The commemorative plaque read “Mount Obama, named in honour of the historical election on 4 November 2008 of Barack Hussein Obama, the first black president of the United States of America, as a symbol of excellence, triumph, hope, and dignity for all people.” At the ceremony, Antigua’s leader sang the song “For you, Barack” whose funky video clip can be watched on Mount Obama’s website www.antiguamountobama.com.
How it feels to have a mountain named after yourself one can only imagine, although America’s first black president, like other presidents before him, has inspired a long list of places bearing his name. Modern society is infatuated with celebrities; we name mountains as well as children after them. We are a culture obsessed with them, be they teenage heartthrobs, business gurus, or national leaders, who in today’s world are classified as celebrities, as is almost anyone who steps into the public spotlight. Veneration of the rich and famous is more avid a pastime than we care to admit it, and if ancient Greece had their Olympic gods, we have our mass media and the offspring it spawns. And what are the offspring good at? Creating a legacy, whether good or bad.
Part of ‘leaving something behind’ for future generations is, among other things, giving your name to an object, idea, practice—anything that can endure the test of time. One of the most beautiful of legacies is the rose. With more than one hundred species and a facility for crossbreeding, there are enough roses for everyone to name. Beautiful, symbolic, practical—the rose is a charming way of ensuring your name lives long and delights the eyes of generations to come. From Mozart’s cerise-pink roses with white centres to Princess Diana’s pink hybrid tea rose, the Rosaceous family has a nearendless promise of colours and shades to accommodate just about anybody’s claim to flower fame. On 22 June, just outside Bern at the Wyss GartenHaus in Ostermundigen, one more name was bestowed on a flower nearly as beautiful as the woman it honours.
The lady whose florid legacy is a soft, apricot-pink hybrid rose with a full flower and an attractive shape sprang to worldwide celebrity some years ago, but Ian Fleming’s description of her is no less applicable today. “She was not quite naked. She wore a broad leather belt around her waist with a hunting knife in a leather sheath at her right hip. The belt made her nakedness extraordinarily erotic. Her skin was a very light uniform café au lait with the sheen of dull satin, her hair was ash blonde. She was Botticelli’s Venus seen from behind…”
Just as captivating as the description in his novel was the incarnation of the character in the immortal form of Swiss Ursula Andress emerging from the Caribbean Sea as the sensual Jamaican shelldiver, Honey Ryder, in the first James Bond film, Dr. No. Upon the movie’s release in 1962, Ms Andress became an instant star; she went on to become a screen legend while her white bikini became one of the most famous swimsuits in cinematic history and Ms Andress herself was anointed a symbol of feminine beauty and sexuality.
Fifty years later at an event attended by more than 1000 guests eager to catch a glimpse of one of Switzerland’s most enduring pop icons, Wyss honoured her with a most delicate rose that now carries her name. “I am touched and very happy to be here,” said Ms Andress before watering the rose with champagne and officially baptising it Ursula. The Wyss GartenHaus in Ostermundigen was specifically chosen for the ceremony as the town is the place where Ms Andress was born; it seemed only appropriate that her rose should come into existence in the same place. Not surprisingly, it is said that Ostermundigen is home to Switzerland’s most beautiful women.
Dr Ulrich Wyss, the host of the evening, was more than delighted by the event. “We are very pleased to welcome Ursula Andress to our family and we can dedicate this rose of exceptional beauty not only to a world-renowned artist but also to an avid flower connoisseur”. How fitting that Ursula Andress, who rose to fame as she arose from the sea, now has a rose as another facet of her association with beauty.
The newly baptised Ursula is on sale in eight of the company’s garden nurseries (Wyss Seeds and Plants Ltd., CHF 39). Now all of the actress’ fans can have an Ursula just for themselves.
Article by Rodica Palmroos – Images : Wyss Samen und Pflanzen AG