Rosa 'Constance Spry' & A Happy Man Makes Me Sad
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
|Alleyn & Barbara Cook|
On Monday June 1, 1953 a 29-year-old New Zealand man in
London was cutting flowers in a school for girls in London.
On Tuesday, June 2, an 11-year-old (me) around noon was called to
lunch, “Alex please wash your hands and knees (I wore short pants).” I remember
how I answered, “Not yet, I am listening to my queen’s coronation.”
The New Zealand man, Alleyne Cook, was a gardener in
Costance Spry’s school where girls were taught manners and how to cook. He was
told by Spry to cut flowers that would be floral arrangements in Westminster
Abbey and along the cavalcade to the coronation.
|Rosa 'Constance Spry' 1 June 2020|
I have written about Cook and his wife Barbara in blogs
Yesterday I went to Barbara Cook’s home because she told me
‘Constance Spry’ was in bloom. I told her to let me know as soon as she
was in bloom. I had the intention of writing a happy blog in memory of her
|Alleyne & Barbara Cook - 2018 - iPhone3G|
But this was not to be. I found that when I arrived that a
most pleasant Barbara (she is over 90)ready to ring a couple of bells at 7pm at
passing cars (they all honked) I became melancholy and disturbed at somehow
being in a garden whose former owner was no longer there. It felt like going up
to a ship’s bridge without asking the permission of the ship’s captain.
The garden has fewer plants as many rare specimens were
donated by the Cooks to botanical gardens. But I must report that the first David
Austin English Rose (1968) was mostly free of any disease. This rose is disease
prone in our wet spring climates. Rosa
‘Ispahan’ also caught my eye. Cook told
me that the rose might have been brought from Iran to the West by returning
crusaders. The rose is fragrant and that while it only blooms once it does for
a long stretch of time.
With cut roses of Ispahan and Constance Spry wrapped by
Barbara wrapped in wet newspaper, I drove home in extreme melancholy. I could remember
Cook’s “Eveready” smile and his wonderful New Zealand accent. His absence in
that garden was salient. This is what came to mind as I drove, “Life is a
distraction for death.”
When I arrived home I immediately went to the scanning. It
was only after I placed Constance Spry in a vase that I finally broke down to
experiencing that extraordinary (most un rose-like) scent that the English
define as myrrh. I can begin to describe it as a scent that has moments of hand
soap, magnolia flowers, lemon and a tad of Pernod.
|Rosa 'Ispahan' 1 June 2020|
To get this rose David Austin crossed Rosa ‘Dainty Maid’
with the 19th century Rosa ‘Belle Isis’. The latter had that scent
of myrrh which in its past must have included Rosa “Ayershire Splendens’ a rose
that grew and grows in northern England and is the only rose in the wild with
the myrrh scent.
I went to bed thinking I would have to write two blogs. One
would be a sad one and another a happy one.
Today I called Barbara Cook to thank her and I told her of
my conundrum. What she did was to thank me for understanding why going through
the garden would indeed have been a sad one. And so here is, one blog.
Iris pallida 'Variegata' - Sweet Iris
Sunday, May 31, 2020
|Iris pallida 'Variegata' 31 May 2020|
This past Friday and Saturday we opened our garden for the
Vancouver Rose Society. I thought I had told the concerned authorities that I
wanted the opening to be Saturday and Sunday but I gave them the Friday and
Saturday calendar dates. This was a good thing.
Because we have always had our open gardens on weekends,
today Sunday feels like Monday. So it seems we have gained a day out of the
|28 May 2020|
Because the open garden is over I dared cut this Iris
pallida ‘Variegata’ to scan.
I have previously written about the connection between the
iris and my Argentine Aunt Iris (she who made the best devilled ham) here
Rosemary, my plant snob wife, does not like bearded iris.
The fact that this one is bearded does not trouble her all that much as the
variegation makes it less of an “ordinary” plant.
Social media is full of people getting really close to plants and flowers with their macro lenses. I believe that this method does not work for me. I want to see the plant in all its complete glory. A further example is the idea of taking photographs of trees that somehow crop their tops. It does not do justice to them (my opinion). This is why the last picture of the iris here is my way of showing the futility of such photography.
John Loengard - A Photographer With Style - Sept 5, 1934 – May 24, 2020
Saturday, May 30, 2020
|Anna Loengard - John Loengard - 1975|
The chances that the death of this man on May 24 will be
paraded by the ambulance chasers of social media are probably nill.
Before continuing I must point out that I never met the
man, never saw him from far away nor did I ever pick up from the pavement a
cigarette that he may have smoked.
Loengard was a man I admired because not only was he a
noted magazine photographer he also wrote well of his experiences of being
|The longtime Life magazine photographer and photo editor
John Loengard, as captured by his Life colleague Alfred Eisenstaedt in an
undated photo. In 2005, American Photo magazine ranked Mr. Loengard 80th among
the 100 most important people in photography.|
Since I can remember, probably when I learned to read, I
have loved magazines and I have been enthralled by them. The pleasure (particularly considering the present pandemic situation) of
turning pages in a Life Magazine and licking one’s fingers to be able to do so,
brings thoughts on the taste of the ink and the feel of the pages and the
rustling noise they would make.
I was 10 when my grandmother purchased a subscription of
Mecánica Popular, perhaps a couple of years before I had first seen American Heritage Magazine at the Lincoln Library on Calle Florida in Buenos Aires. It was in that magazine that I saw my first photographs of live and dead soldiers of the American Civil War taken my Timothy O'Sullivan.
In Mexico I would buy magazines that had photographs that
showed Brigitte Bardot’s handsome cleavage. Cleavage competed with car
magazines like Mechanix Illustrated where chaps like
John McCahill would inform me how many horses the engine of a Chrysler 300 might have or what a Torqueflite transmission was all about.
In the late 50s I saw my first photographs of
semi-undraped females in Playboys and Esquires
at the American Hotel in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico.
By 1977 I was working for Vancouver Magazine and for many
more of the best Canadian magazines like Saturday Night. Some of my photographs were then published
in magazines around the world.
|Jennifer Loengard - John Loengard - 1983|
If I take a picture of my daughter, our relationship changes and she
is not my daughter any more. She could just as easily be the Duchess of
Malfi. If she says, "Oh, Dad, not now!" I'll treat her exactly as I
woud Georgia O'Keeffe if she said, "Oh, Mr Loengard, please not now!" In
my head I think, "There is a beautiful picture here and by God, short
of murder, I'm going to get it. So shut up and hold still!" But what I
say is : "You look wonderful. I'll just take a minute. It's marvelous.
We're doing something very special."
I learned the part about a minute from a dentist. I learned the rest from Carl Mydans. For the magazine's thirtieth birthday, Life
photographers were asked to photograph each other. Carl was assigned to
me. To see such an intelligent and distinguished man concentrating on
the problem of taking my picture was extremely flattering. Still I felt
tense. After all I was being scrutinized. Carl kept telling me what
wonderful pictures were being made. I believed him, and soon I relaxed. I
was a success at being a subject!
(You should tell these things to a person as you photograph him - even if it is a lie - which in this case it was. Life photographers as it turned out, could photograph anything in the world except each other.)
One of the photographers that was dear to me was
Loengard. I wrote a few blogs about him. In one I placed a photograph (a
selfie, too!) that he took of his daughter Jennifer as a little girl. It was the lead shot to this blog of his other daughter Anna
who announced her father’s death as written in this NY Times Obituary.
It is because I am 77 that I am blind to photographic
style in this century. I assert there isn’t one. I hope I am wrong. I wonder who
will be the Loengard’s of the future and if there will be magazines (with
glossy paper) that will amply reproduce their photographs for us to notice,
admire, copy, emulate and perhaps even have then help us acquire a style of our own.
Rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison', Corn Tortillas & Earl Grey Tea
Friday, May 29, 2020
|Rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' 31 May 2020|
Some people can follow the instructions to make a pot of
loose tea, or to fix a dozen Mexican corn tortillas. But many will fail. There
is some magic involved.
Our former Mexican housekeeper in Burnaby in the late 70s
(we brought her so that our daughters would not lose their Spanish) Clemencia
made the best Earl Grey Tea. One day I spotted her re-boiling some of it and I
was shocked! I never did notice the difference. She had the touch.
It is the same with roses. Some of us can grow this rose or
that one. I could never grow the multi-petalled Bourbon Roses because the
blooms would never open in Vancouver’s rainy weather.
Rosarian of note, Darlene Sanders told me she had a fine
specimen of Rosa ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’. I told her this could not be true (I
almost called her a fibber!). So some years ago I visited her West Vancouver
garden and her Souvenir de la Malmaison was glorious.
Now, yesterday Saturday, Sanders visited our garden. She
brought me a little gift. You can guess exactly what the gift was. Today Sunday
I scanned it.
This blog is filling a an empty hole on another day, the day before yesterday. But the
date of the scan is 31 May 2020.
Perhaps someday soon Sanders might invite us for tea. I am sure
that it would be excellent. But in making Mexican corn tortillas I believe she would be
as good at it as I am in growing Bourbon Roses.