Archive for the ‘roses’ category

Roses, roses, all the way

June 13, 2008

The idea was that I would feature each of my roses on here as they came into bloom.  However, I notice that everyone else’s are out, but in my sad shaded garden mine have been lagging behind!  Still, here are some choice offerings.

Frau Dagmar Hastrupp

This is Frau Dagmar Hastrupp, a large but delicate and fragrant Rosa Rugosa on a tall spiny bush with dark foliage.  She was bred in Germany (or Denmark, depending on which rose dictionary you read) in 1914.  There are various versions of her name – she may have been the wife of a Danish rose-breeder.  She produces only a few flowers in my garden, but battles on from year to year.  The few flowers produce spectacular large red hips.

Cornelia (or Celestial?)

I don’t know the name of this little beauty (the photo does not do her justice), as the ticket fell to bits some years ago and I dutifully copied her name onto a plastic plant label in ‘indelible’ ink which has vanished.  I think she might be Cornelia (or possibly Celestial), although she’s better looking than the pictures in my books.  She straggles bravely in a pot, as I have nowhere to plant her out.

Madame Hardy

And here is Madame Hardy, who dates from 1832 (France), a beautiful damask rose which does very well in my little bed, growing bigger every year and producing dozens of these aristocratic white flowers with a green eye, with several layers of petals (the confusing technical term is ‘fully double’).  She smells wonderful too.

Chapeau de Napoleon

This is my greatest pride and the first rose I planted, Chapeau de Napoléon, a ‘moss rose’ imported from France in 1826 but supposedly found growing wild in Switzerland in 1820.  It’s named from the tricorne-hat-shaped buds which are covered in prickles like a horse chestnut (and, strangely, smell of apple).  Every year, I think it’s had it, as it clings forlornly to the fence, then late in the day it produces just a few of these incredibly luxurious cabbagey blooms, which have a scent that is out of this world.

Juliet's mighty invader!

Finally, to put things in perspective, this is my next door neighbour’s climbing rose, probably a ‘Kiftsgate’, which she put in only a few years ago and now must have climbed twenty feet up her tree.  I regularly have to lop off eight- or ten-foot shoots as they invade my space!  In fact she says she has to come round to my garden to see it, as it grows more on my side of the fence than hers.

One day I will move to somewhere that has lots of space and lots of sunshine, and then I will be able to justice to my love of old-fashioned roses.  Meanwhile I do what I can…

a poem for St George’s Day by Brian Patten

April 23, 2008


Today, 23 April, is St George’s Day, a day which the English are notoriously bad at celebrating;  in order to kick-start patriotic interest in England’s Patron Saint, English Heritage have commissioned Liverpool poet Brian Patten to write a poem.
When I heard it on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, read by the inimitable Scouse-voiced poet himself, I knew I had to share it with you.  (I had a devil of a job finding it on line, but that’s another story.  Sort of QED – how much the English care about St George’s Day or poetry or the arts, or anything much at all really. Anyway…)
Brian Patten pointed out that 23 April is also Shakespeare’s birthday.  (Well, we don’t actually know when Shakespeare’s birthday is, but traditionally it’s celebrated today.)  You’re supposed to wear an English rose on St George’s day, but of course it’s the wrong time of year, as they’re not out yet.  Well, I’ll put a picture of one on here instead. 



 St George was out walking
He met a dragon on a hill,
It was wise and wonderful
Too glorious to kill
It slept amongst the wild thyme
Where the oxlips and violets grow
Its skin was a luminous fire
That made the English landscape glow
Its tears were England’s crystal rivers
Its breath the mist on England’s moors
Its larder was England’s orchards,
Its house was without doors
St George was in awe of it
It was a thing apart
He hid the sleeping dragon
Inside every English heart
So on this day let’s celebrate
England’s valleys full of light,
The green fire of the landscape
Lakes shivering with delight
Let’s celebrate St George’s Day,
The dragon in repose;
The brilliant lark ascending,
The yew, the oak, the rose
© Brian Patten 2008


English rose in my garden, oh no actually it's a French one!

You can hear the item from the Today programme — including Brian Patten reading his poem — by clicking on this link:

Radio 4 podcast — poems for St George’s Day

Spring, the sweet spring

April 13, 2008

rosa xanthina spontanea
Everybody knows the English only like to talk about the weather… But it’s been a funny old spring this year, mostly cold and drab, and despite global warming we had SNOW last weekend – but only a couple of days earlier it was the warmest day of the year so far, sunny shirtsleeve weather.  What’s going on?

Anyway, as far as Nature is concerned, spring seems to have been mostly very slow in coming (despite daffodils appearing in the flower shops ever earlier:  we never used to see them much before March, just in time for Mother’s Day, but in recent years they have been around before Christmas –  flown in from the Channel Islands or somewhere – and I swear I saw some for sale in October last year.  But some of the daffodils growing in gardens really are late, and are only now just coming out).

I certainly wasn’t expecting any roses yet;  in England at any rate, single-flowering roses usually do their stuff in June or July.  So it was a great treat to look out of my bedroom window earlier this week and see a huge display of Canary Bird, busting out all over.  Now, this fella is noted for being the first rose to appear, but that would normally be in May, certainly not the second week in April.

At the moment it’s cold and dark and rainy again (good news for London Marathon runners trying to keep cool today, less good news for the onlookers).  But Canary Bird tells me that spring is on its way at last – whether early or late I can’t tell.