I FORGIVE YOU

"Close-up of flower with many layers of pink and white petals, slightly darkened on the edges."

I forgive you, dear sublime tricksters glimpsed amongst the autumnal taupe. With your summer sheen you try to deceive me as for a second I let down my seasonal guard.

For over an hour I’ve luxuriated with the warm glow of sunshine upon my face, eyes squinted against the glaring rays as I’ve wandered around the Hall gardens.

"Large maple tree with glorious bright red leaves against green of fir trees and bluest of sky."

My eyes feasted upon the startling crimson maple in the distance, burnished as if alight; my vision lifted across to the golden hues of dancing grasses, above them russet oak leaves fluttering, twirling, released from the clasp of the branches, on their last flight of life.

All the time I’m fully aware of autumn. Yet here you are, at my feet, tucked neatly into the flower border, hiding beneath the bare roses. A sparkle of summer, your petals tinged with a love of light and life. Tugging at my memory of a bygone season.

"Large border of Pampas grasses swaying in the breeze, red leafed bushes to the front, blue sky."

I forgive you, con artist extraordinaire! With a sharp intake of breath I remain utterly still, coveting the treasure of summer, not wanting any sudden action to cause the precious petals to leave their anchor. Petals nigh free from blemishes of decay, petals bursting with gentle hues of pinks and the brilliance of white. On closer inspection though the ravages of autumn have started to touch them, the normal soft golden orb reduced to puckered sandy powdered puffballs.

I welcome your tenacity, your audacity. I salute your temerity. Thanking you for the gift of your deception, for returning summer to me on the cusp of winter.

"Ornamental pond with ducks swimming in it, bordered by pillar conifers, trees in autumn reds and gold, flowered water lilies in the middle."

A WORLD OF ROSES

A proliferation of roses greets me every morning in the garden. Each one a blessing after the rather dismal and grey winter and spring here in the UK, and perhaps the damp weather aided the spectacular display. More than ever the rose bushes are in a glorious and abundant show of flowers with endless buds biding their time for their turn to bloom.

‘Queen of Sweden’ rose

As I view the flowers with awe, inspecting the new arrivals, snipping away those that have withered, I started to ponder about roses. How I’ve always taken them for granted yet know so little about them.

To accompany just some of my photos, particularly of my pink David Austin ‘Queen of Sweden’ which at one stage had over seventy buds, I’m also sharing some fun facts about roses which I encountered on my research.

  • There are over 100 different species of roses, and over a staggering 13,000 identifiable varieties!
  • Their cultivation began around 5000 years ago in Asia although the oldest fossil of roses dates back 35 millions years.
Hildesheim Cathedral Rosebush
  • The oldest surviving rose is over 1,000 years old and grows against the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. The roots of the rose bush survived when the cathedral was destroyed during bombings in World War II.
  • There are no black roses, although those referred to as such are in fact a dark red-crimson colour.
  • The buds of the tiniest rose is only the size of a grain of rice, whilst the largest rose, bred by a rose specialist in California, measures approximately 83 cm / 33 inches in diameter.
  • The leading exporter of roses is the Netherlands with 19,768 acres of land growing roses. Meanwhile, Bulgaria is famous for its Rose Valley which has for centuries produced up to 85% of the world’s rose oil.
Roses in Bulgaria
  • The world’s most expensive rose variety cost over £3 million / $5 million to cultivate during 15 years of work by the famous rose breeder David Austin. The ‘Juliet’ rose, with its neatly-arranged petals nestling folds within the heart of the bloom, is especially popular for weddings.
Bouquet of David Austin’s ‘Juliet’ roses
  • The ‘Shady Lady’, as it is unofficially known, or ‘Lady Banksia’, its official name, in Arizona is the world’s largest rose bush with a circumference of around 3.6 m / 12 feet. The seedling, brought over by a young bride from her native Scotland 134 years ago, has a canopy today that stretches over 800 square metres / 9,000 square feet and a forest of roses appear in Spring.
  • There are over 4,000 songs dedicated to roses and one that I’m most familiar is the moving ‘La Vie en Rose’. This has been covered by many artists and recently became known to a younger audience through its feature on the TV show “How I Met Your Mother”. I discovered this wonderful version by the fabulously talented Louis Armstrong and it’s a delight to share here.

Finally, in case you want to see some more roses, here is a video of my ‘Queen of Sweden’ rose bush. Enjoy and listen out for the ice-cream van tune … one that often has me dashing inside for money and then eagerly queuing for a ’99-Flake’ (which alas costs more than 99 pence these days!)

Note: Some of you might have noticed that I have been less busy than usual with blogging, All is well, however as so often happens life has been extremely hectic in recent weeks. With time I will be visiting as before, but ask for you understanding if I am less active for a while.