I grew about sixty roses when I lived in California, I’ve lost exact count, but I’m sure I had at least that many. I knew that leaving the garden I spent several years creating would be one of the hardest things for me, just slightly less painful than leaving our many dear friends. I think of both very often, and now in the dead of winter, I’m dreaming of roses.
In the year and a half we’ve been in England, I’ve managed to pick up a few bushes, but we’re very limited as to what we can plant. Most of the back yard of our rented flat is paved with bricks, and in the middle of the garden is an enormous ash tree that from May onwards shades 80% of the garden; impossible for roses. There is a raised bed which you can see in the following picture, taken in June last year, that gets enough sun to grow roses and herbs as it is just out of reach of the shade for enough hours during the day.
You can get a real sense of the size of the ash tree by this image taken a few weeks ago during the big snow. I’m terrible with estimating height, but I think it must be at least 80 feet tall :
So we have very limited space to grow roses, and on top of that, we’re on a budget while I’m back at school, so there will be not great garden creation here like in California. I’m hoping that I might be able to buy a few bare root roses in the next few months, as the time to order and plant them is February and March.
So far, these are the roses that we do have in the garden, (I’ve not taken my own photos of most of these so I’ll use images from David Austin’s site for this group):
Alan Titchmarsh & Gentle Hermione
Scepter’d Isle & Sharifa Asma
Spirit of Freedom & Strawberry Hill
The Ingenious Mr Fairchild
I love all of them, especially The Ingenious Mr Fairchild and Scepter’d Isle which both bloom a lot and have intense fragrances. In fact, fragrance has become an utter necessity for me when choosing roses, I simply won’t buy another one that has a light or no scent. I want the added pleasure of not only looking at the rose but breathing in the heady scents, in all the varieties that roses produce. It’s like developing a taste for wine.
So I’ve been dreaming of roses, and dreaming of the garden that I would create if I had the resources. I’ve made this post as a sort of therapy that, hopefully, will allow me to indulge myself a bit and give some sense of satisfaction just by going through the process. So, here are some roses that I’d love to order this year, and hopefully, I might even be able to get a couple of them!
(This photo from Soho Rose Farm in Australia, all of the rest following are mine)
This one is a surprise to me. If you look at my collection so far, I’ve only ordered pinks, and I usually never like roses with strong colours or mixed colours, and here I am looking at one of the brightest and most mixed of all of David Austin’s roses. What changed it for me was visiting his gardens last year and seeing it in person. The scent is absolutely unbelievable. Strong, fruity, sweet, powerful. And there was something about the colour as well that gave it a faded and old-fashioned look.
I kept walking away thinking “No way, it is way off colour for your garden”, but I kept walking back, smelling it, and falling deeper in love.
Princess Alexandra of Kent
Another rose that I am surprised that I want so much. This one is clearly pink, but also a bit “brighter” than I would usually choose. However, seeing it in person made all of the difference:
Wow! Every bush that we saw of it at David Austin’s garden was covered with blooms. Huge, fragrant blooms that I could smell from feet away. The flowers are really incredible, majestic and impressive.
This rose has been around for a few decades, and I never hear much about it. I suspect that it’s probably unpopular for a good reason, and I have never given it a second thought. However, when I saw it in person, even with just a few blooms left on the only plant of it in the garden, I fell in love. I can’t think of any other word for this rose than “Victorian”. It has wonderfully ruffled edges and a powdery lilac colour with many shades fading at the edges, as shown in this close-up:
Lilac Rose also has a strong, old-fashioned rose scent to match. I find it charming and wistful.
The Wedgewood Rose
The Wedgewood Rose is one of the New Roses for 2009, and even if I wanted it I wouldn’t be able to order it until next season, it sold out immediately upon its release. But since this is my fantasy garden with my fantasy purchases, I’ll go ahead and add it in. This is another rose with rather tattered edges, but with a very soft shell pink colour and very large blooms which nod on the branches. It is gorgeous.
Of course, The Wedgewood Rose also has a very good scent. Utterly elegant and sophisticated, I think it will be a huge success for David Austin.
Jude the Obscure
This is the only rose on my list that I grew in California that I absolutely have to have again right away. There are other David Austin roses that I grew that I would love to grow again… William Shakespeare 2000, St Cecilia, Eglantyne, Sister Elizabeth, The Prince, Evelyn… all shown on this page of my California roses: http://www.robertmealing.com/2010/01/roses-from-my-old-garden/
But Jude is something special:
I love the huge, globular flowers on this rose, and the soft, faded golden yellow; but it is the scent that drives me wild. Jude the Obscure smells like sweet wine left in a jug infused with fruit on a summer’s day, and it is powerful and intoxicating.
It’s one of the few roses that I grew several bushes of in California, and it’s one that I just can’t live without for too much longer. It was heaven smelling that perfume once again when we visited David Austin’s garden.
Another surprise for me. I love the two-tone colour of this rose. Deep, rich, powerful. It reminds me of a fuschia. Of course, Young Lycidas also has a great scent.
Lady Emma Hamilton
I’m not sure what has happened to my tastes. Have they become more sophisticated and willing to accept complex combinations of colour? Have they become less refined and willing to allow gaudy combinations of colour? Detail:
Garrett loved this rose too, and I think that a big part of the attraction is the incredibly rich colour of the foliage. Deep reds and browns predominate, with shocking buds that look like flames, and then open up into beautiful, deeply scented blooms; fairly similar to Jude the Obscure in both shape and fragrance.
Well, that’s it. The top roses that I’d love to order this year, I think the one thing they all have in common is their very powerful scents. There are others that I’d add to the list as well… Pretty Jessica, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Brother Cadfael, Harlow Caarr, Claire Austin, Munstead Wood… but these are at the top of my list and the ones that I’d really love to try growing. Well, I can dream can’t I?
David Austin Roses: http://www.davidaustinroses.com/