Rose Fragrant Cloud
It really is, too.
(I've decided to finally get onto reviewing the hundred-plus varieties of roses that have cycled through our garden in the last 20 years, just because most reviews are generated by suppliers and thus pretty suspect to peeps worried about dropping thirty damn dollars on one bloody plant; just saying. If this prospect bores you, too fucking bad. Everyone should garden, where possible. Your body needs the exercise. Your brain needs the tranquility. The dirt needs friends. Roses and indeed most other plants are indisputably preferable to the company of most people and far better for you than that other shit you're doing. Prove me wrong.)
Agnes is a really odd sort of rose, a hybrid-looking thing with the wild-type foliage of one parent and the feral habit of the other. The flower form resists effective classification too, seemingly stranded between Old Rose fluff and 70's Floribunda realness. She doesn’t get a lot of love, perhaps due to this misc. look and the often whack nature of the label photos that always seem to misrepresent her. She's a survivor, though, a flapper minted in 1922 from the wild roses Rugosa x Foetida persiana.
Agnes deserves far more attention. Her hair is full of secrets.
Negatives? Well, she does bristle with Gooseberry-like thorns, making her a great hedge prospect and a menace to the unwary. The only other 'difficulty' I've encountered with Agnes is in regard to pruning, which usually means it's best to just put down the secateurs and back away from any impending hack job. My cack-handed meddling has made her a wee bit flat-headed at the moment as you can probably see in the pic below, but I intend to leave her alone from now on in the hope she regains her original, more graceful Rugosa form. Agnes may not knock you on your arse with her drag show, but there could not be a more low-maintenance, aesthetically sympathetic and uncomplaining rose.
Yes this is a lazy blogging week but sesst lar vee since no other bitch is going to come and stack 6m of firewood for us. Real world shit needs to get done. We've had a stretch of very hot nor-westy weather which makes me cranky so it's a fucking miracle I'm posting at all. Above: all our hydrangeas are nameless ferals grown from cuttings yoinked at felonious random from elsewhere. They all turn out to be blandly candy pink like this guy; the punishment fits the crime.
Clockwise from above left: Gladiolus. I'm getting back into glads which is something that seems to happen to old people. Hats off to their breeders, though, because there are some fucking stunning cultivars kicking around. Jury Hybrid Dahlias. I like to buy their unnamed selections because they're cheap and usually just as nice as their official releases. Rose Graham Thomas. Everyone is like oh it's a blackspot monster and I was all like whatever and then it broke out in purple blotches and shit itself. It re-leafs promptly, though, and who could stay mad at this sort of thing? Unknown highly fabulous mauve dahlia with gold centre that I call Sir Gaylord in my mind. Mmmmm dahlias.
R is responsible for most if not all of these images. Above is a fantastic close-up of one of the pinkish slightly fancy calendulas I grew from seed. Hope these guys persist and naturalise. Below: Lavateras. Spanky new Clock Cicada on a budding glad. It's slightly out of focus on the cicada and R is a pedant who loses his mind over shit like that. I think this image fulfils some more important obligations so I posted it anyway, in the passive aggressive manner.
Rose Golden Wing, which is sometimes golden, sometimes richly ivory and sometimes almost white, depending on its mood. There is a luxurious clove/spice scent that becomes more pronounced each year but is similarly capricious, floating about promiscuously on a still day and then retreating right into the stamens next time. Banksia ericafolia (I think). Rose Jacqueline du Pré which is getting fried by the nasty sun at the moment. Plant it in afternoon shade if you have the option.
Above: Balloon flower, Platycodon grandifloras, which lives up to its name by puffing itself into a ball as a bud before opening up like this. Cool little plant for an awkward spot. Agastache is bumblebee crack and we go up into the top garden to find these self-seeded plants heaving with frantic bees and mimics of all descriptions crawling over one another trying to score the good shit. Gladioli Black Star.
And last but not least, the very first flowers on one of my Paramount Hybrid Echinopsis. I'm not sure of the exact cultivar but they are all stupidly spectacular and this image does nothing to exaggerate those incredible qualities. The blooms are as large as my outstretched hand, mesmerisingly beautiful and well worth the I think 4 year wait. It was previously underpotted and slightly too shaded to flower, but a change of address to the sunny teahouse was the shot in the arse that it obviously needed.
Although the camera is rendering this bloom's clean, almost self-coloured hue as something approaching a white-to-amber gradient, this first ever flower from my small Lady Hillingdon is in fact a smooth, pastel, dreamlike apricot with only minimal fading toward the edges of the petals. Oh well. You get the idea.
The small graft has struggled in a dog position and the delicious quality of this flower reminds me to move the damn thing before it ends it all in a fit of pique. The scent is strange, that sort of hardcore skunky tea with suggestions of cracked flint, iodine and green pond shadow lurking under dusty blonde wood and faint, cursory powder. I've seen larger plants; the foliage often seems a bit sparse but the overall effect in flower is gloriously regal.
* Our Photography * Photoessays * Kitchen Bitch * Our Garden *
Heading into our third week of total cloud/drizzle. Dimly remember sky-thing. Maybe... blue.
Since I'm particularly inarticulate at the moment and really fucking depressed/enraged about the TPP signing, here are some recent images from the garden, from back when sun happened and in our current bullshit situation. It's either that or radicalisation. Just kidding.
No I'm not.
Gallica Rose La Belle Sultane. Giant Red Clover. Rosa Mundi
Tetra Asiastic Lily Sweet Surrender, another tetra that I cannot remember the name of, Rose Ferdinand Pichard
Hybrid Perpetual Rose Alfred Colomb + Sweet Surrender lily, HP Rose Sophie's Perpetual,
Martagon Lily (I think this is Early Bird)
Kalmia (in someone else's garden), Lilium henryii Sunstrike, Ligularia flower, Lilium Sunstrike.
Strawberry Hill's scent is an onomatopoeic version of its candy colour ; a fat-fisted face-punch of sweet myrrh and melty almond nougat. 8/10.
* More vegetal beauty * Roses * Selected Ravings *
David Austin rose Lady of Megginch. That's her on the left. Though it's frequently described/sold as a red, it is not. It is in fact a deep fuchsia with slightly silvered outer petals, the colour almost in the Bourbon style as far as this rich, saturated pink is concerned. For me after a year and a half as a grafted plant, she is low and slightly tentacular in that tall canes are emerging from a squat shrubby foundation and her bloom has good upright Hybrid Tea sort of form and really decent rain resistance. These pictures are quite accurate on my monitor.
Not as fragrant as I had hoped from something with this sort of colouration, although I have found some roses take a couple of seasons for their perfume to really emerge so I'm withholding judgement. Currently I'd describe it as a low-medium tearose scent with a hint of dusty fruit, about 4/10.
Darcey Bussell, also a DA job. No complaints about the vigour of this nice little doer; in half a year it's gone from a slightly wimpy graft to a prolific competitor to a too-close and fucking monstrous Golden Celebration. The small galaxy of close-set buds have started popping to reveal flattened and button-eyed blooms in this deep, dark dimensional magenta purple which is very Old Garden Rose to my eye; images above use natural indoor daylight while below is obviously on the bush in some morning shade. There is some scent- warm, slightly plasticky fruit, which I'd rate around 5/10. But it's a nicer plant than the sum of its parts.
Natural light, no photoshopping and very representative on my monitor.
Clockwise from top left: Grace, Ellen, Crown Princess Margareta, Ambridge Rose.
This Ambridge bloom is a little tired but still comes out swinging as the hands-down winner of the scent challenge with the most beautiful and complex myrrh I've ever encountered- even if you generally dislike that note, the intense bonus mix of fruit and powder make it worth your attention. Ellen runs second with great big soapy fruit and petitgrain- these first two are must-haves for scent queens. Crown P is all low dusty fruit with a hint of peat and an odd sort of pea-green element, and Grace exhibits modest smoky tea-type notes. All but Ellen are new in my garden this year and doing well. The first three listed are all similarly large, thick-petalled and rain-resistant once fully open (the Crown P is still only half-out here) with Ellen possibly taking the heavyweight title, whilst the Ambridge is smaller, more tissue-y and delicate.