Reviewing Rose Possibilities

Botanical-illustrationsIt is now June and the classic flower of the month in England is usually considered to be the rose. Apart from the fact that I still have endless weekends of internal decoration to attend to, and, as I type, I am manfully ignoring one entire room left in an almost derelict state, I have started to think about the garden.

I realise one way and another I have missed this year for some of my flowering favourites such as the hellebores, tulips, aquilegias, irises and roses not to mention a flowering fruit tree or two. However, now is not the time to moan, but to get on and get planning. It is a good time to think ahead as although quite a few container grown roses are now out of stock for this season, they can still be ordered for delivery as bare root plants for this coming autumn and winter. Naturally, recent evenings have been spent perusing my old copy of ‘The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book’ in the hunt for suitable roses for very small gardens.

Graham-Stuart-Thomas-go-to-rose-bookAlthough I do love many of the old fashioned shrub roses that I have grown in the past not all of them are as robust as some of the more recent introductions such as rosa Queen Elizabeth (1954, see below) or the David Austin rose, rosa St Swithun (1993, above right).

Modern-hybrid-tea-Queen-ElizabthCurrently, I am tending towards a thornless, reliable modern climber for my very tiny front patch, possibly the David Austin climbing rose, rosa Mortimer Sackler (2002). It needs to be thornless as it will eventually top the boundary wall at waist height between my property and a side passage used as the rear access for my neighbours.

David-Austin-Mortimer-Sackler
Rosa Mortimer Sackler introduced by David Austin 2002. Photo: David Austin website

Mind you I have been tempted by Stuart Thomas’s comments on rosa Agnes, “Unusual with delicious scent”, but despite the appealing name (😉) I don’t feel I can fit a yellow rose, even this pale, muddled beauty, into the planting scheme.

Agnes

It is a while since I have taken my copy of the Rose Book off the shelf. Indeed, it has been boxed up with all the rest of my books for the last 18 months during the moving process and consequently I was surprised when a slip of paper fell out. As I picked it up expecting it to be a now redundant list of roses from my last garden, I noticed with curiosity that it was a poem. One of my favourites originally copied out over 15 years ago.

ee-cummings-poem

 

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Nature’s Version of Winter Pink

Small pink bloom rose Madame Isaac PereireNormally the Bourbon rose, Madame Isaac Pereire shows off with large and glamorous blooms, but last week I noticed it had made an out of season effort to flower. Yes, the bloom is small, but nevertheless it does provide a cheery pink addition to the winter garden. The rose is grown in a moderately sheltered corner up against the wall of the house, but doesn’t usually start flowering until May. A few blasts of easterly winter wind keeps it dormant, but so far this winter we’ve had buckets of rain from the southwest, no snow and few easterlies.

Pink rose Karlsruhe

Further down in the garden a tough, modern climbing rose, Karlsruhe, has also managed to produce a fuchsia pink bloom to lift the gloomy grey. Looking at these roses again I think that undersized and blighted flowers look odd and messy. This particularly applies to the last of the winter outliers, the David Austin English rose, St Swithun. In summer the flowers are very large, opened cupped and a delicate soft warm pink, but this January bloom is small and a darker pink. Realistically, I should just cut off all the stunted flowers and save the plants their energy. Oh, how we clutch at straws.

rosa St Swithun