It's Garden Week here at Bellemaison. The Chows are practically giddy with joy because with all the comings and going of bags of steer and peat and the lugging of big pots around and the replacement of bird houses and planting of seeds, there is plenty of time to get in some good games of ball. Previously this spring, against all good advice, we pruned the Loch Ness of Roses, New Dawn. This rose is flat crazy. She is a rambler, bred by Somerset. She is hardy, she is wild, she throws canes around like a drunken sailor on a Saturday night and she produces the most delicately beautiful, delightfully feminine, dainty roses of an exquisite shell pink. The first time I saw her ablaze in bloom was in St. Alban's Hertfordshire in the UK at the headquarters of the Royal Horticulture Society Headquarters. She is royal in every sense of the word. She rambles along the walls of the garden and comprises the arch to the garden entrance. She creates such a tangle of fierce thorns that the birds like to nest in mine, atop the fence, where I can look out my bedroom window, right into their turquoise blue eggs. Ah, spring. So New Dawn is a favorite, on many levels.
Another favorite is 'Paradise', (Weeks). Paradise is a lovely bluey lavender, whose petals are tipped in soft ruby red. It has exquisite fragrance, as most lavender roses do, and such a beautiful presence with these lovely red-tipped lavender blooms nestled in a shiny, dark leathery bush of foliage. 'Paradise' is a secret gift that I give to me. No one knows....
Oh, and Fragrant Cloud. What a rose! She also is magnificently fragrant (are you beginning to see a trend here?) and a funny, corrally-reddy color that looks like a grandma color to me. I would never pick this color. But I love this rose. God, what a fragrance. It's citrus and fresh and soft, but sharp? See, that's the thing with this rose: contradicts me and itself on every level and just won't leave my consciousness. I will cross 4 lanes of traffic to buy a Fragrant Cloud rose on sale and have been know to buy 2 dozen at a shot. True, I'm afraid. sigh.
Okay, let's talk about white roses, my very favorites. The favorite of the favorites is 'Jacqueline du Pre', bred by Peter Harkness, whom I have met. In St. Alban's. Why do I love this rose? Oh my word. First, it is a creamy white, like cream from the carton, not a startling white, like copy paper from the printer. It has delicate purple stamens and orangey centers. It's fragrant with a lovely, musky, sexy scent. It's a cupped rose, which means the petals form a little cup as they unfold. It has beautiful dark green leaves. This rose is a masterpiece, white or not, and for you who need to know, is the cross between 'Radox Boqet' and 'Maigold' and of course, was named for the cellist who died from Multiple Sclerosis in 1987. If you are going to grow one rose, grow this one. full stop.
And then there's Eden. Oh I know some of you will tell me she balls. Yes, we rosarians talk about our roses this way. Perfectly acceptable. Means if it rains as she is beginning to bloom, she changes her mind, balks and balls up. Undoubtedly a phrase the English coined. To help her get past her stubbornness, you have to take the rose bloom in your clean hands, and gently coax the petals into unfolding with your thumbs. Hmmm. Eden is a delicate ivory and pink cabbage rose, with no scent, but with apple green leaves. She is a perfect wedding rose, the perfect bathroom sink rose, the perfect evening stroll rose. I grow her on the other side of the fence and she crawls up and flops over to my side, giving the Chows and me a spectacular cascade of blooms and foliage. I LOVE Eden.
And yellow roses, along with the lavenders, the most fragrant of all roses: I am particularly fond of Austin's 'Charlotte' and his 'Happy Child', too. Both wonderfully fragrant, lovely, well-behaved roses with good garden-behavior habits.
Next up: The Notable and Special Roses of Bellemaison
~many thanks to rosarians of the world for their Google images
The 'Kan EWA