It’s time for roses! Finally the season has started and my 2 year old roses are stating their presence in the garden. Last year plants were still to small to be showy and some of them didn’t bloom at all since they need some old wood to set flowers. In the picture above you can see Thérèse Bugnet, a once blooming hybrid rugosa, the scent is very strong, reminiscent of clover and sweet lemonade, quite typical of the rugosa type.
Rival de Paestum is at one corner of the gravel garden, not far from the pergola and the plaster water tank, the bush is still rather small because she is putting all her strength in flowering. In fact this rose is always blooming and the hottest it gets the happiest she is. Flowers are white blend, nodding, elegant in bud and kind of disheveled when in full bloom but this is so typical of the china/tea roses. Scent in china roses is not really a strong feature, they all smell the same and the scent is usually described as ‘tea fragrance‘ but to me they smell of greenery, and the scent isn’t even strong; this is the reason why I have neglected china roses for ages: scent is so important to me in a rose. However in this garden I needed something that could really bear strong heat and drought and that could possibly bloom more than once and china roses are the best choice. I now love them.
Another china rose in bloom now is Parks’ Yellow Tea-scented China, or should I say in commerce as, since the original one (aka rosa indica ochroleuca, more info here) is considered extinct before the end of 1800. So the one you see pictured above is actually a hoax introduces by Peter Beales some 30 years ago. However the original one is believed to be one of the ancestors of the modern roses. Mine is leaning gracefully against the walnut tree, in the hope it will cover the wretched tree soon. In the background you can also have a glance of rosa banksiae Purezza, which had already covered the first 3 meters of the old fashioned (thank God!) electricity pole. Pole in which is nailed my first attempt to make a bird nest box, do you remember? Well I am so proud to announce that a couple of great tits had nested there and they are very busy hunting bugs for their babies.
The nest box has been there for more than one year, the rose has grown a lot creating more privacy around the nest but I also guess the birds also needed the nest to be somehow seasoned and reliable. Newer and prettier nest boxes installed on the birch trees a few months ago are still empty.
Anyway there are birds hunting bugs and bugs hunting other bugs too, can you see the white spider on the bee amongst the thyme flowers? Crazy, I was waiting for that bee to strike a pose for me on the thyme and suddenly she’s been captured by the spider: kind of disappointing, ok more for her than for me but she paid the price for celebrity!
At this point you may start thinking that I might have a soft spot for white and yellow blended roses… Well you may be right but also know that for some reason white and yellow roses are the early flowerer. Ormiston Roy is a hybrid spinosissima, the Scots rose, only once blooming but with a good smell and later it sets big black fat hips. The other one is Agnes, a hybrid rugosa with a strong and very peculiar scent, even the fresh leaves are scented of something like clover and incense. I love this rose.
Ok, let’s break this yellow spell with a pink rose, another china rose, another reliable bloomer, she’s so pretty but I can’t love her. Sorry. Maybe it’s because of that red tinge on the buds, maybe it’s because of that ham pink of the flowers… Hey, darling, you can’t assume everyone likes you.
There’s also something more, other than roses in bloom now. When we bought the house there was very little interesting in the garden, apart for nettles and some wild clematis, there was also an old clump of iris pallida. Iris pallida rhizomes were once used dried and powdered as an important ingredient to make perfumes (especially in Tuscany), so people thinks they are particularly scented, indeed they were used not for the scent but as a fixative. I like their scent though, they smell like rubber toys (the ones for children) (…I’ve never smelled the ones for grown-ups!). I divided that tight original clump and made 3 new big clumps that are at their top now.
One is near the crab apple trees, planted with miscanthus Cabaret, some allium Purple Sensation (that you can maybe see a little in the background) and there are also the chartreuse green foliage of a gallica rose Aimable Rouge, a deep pink coloured rose, I hope it’s going to bloom soon to complete the picture.
Another clump is near the kitchen door, planted with centranthus ruber. I love this pale blue/lilac iris paired with some deep pink/purple.
The third clump is still in a bed with knee high weeds and I won’t show you any pictures…
But let’s get back to yellow roses and to spinosissima roses too, here are two rather recent introductions:
Maigold, with a very odd sunset colour.
And Fruehlingsgold, a pale yellow one, very graceful and wild looking. Both have been bred in Germany by Kordes in the early ’50s.