Proliferating Roses, Lord Cochran & Captain Jack AubreyFriday, July 13, 2007
May 6, 1801: Speedy (14 guns), Lord Cochrane, takes the Spanish frigate El Gamo (32 guns).
Lord Cochrane the 10th Earl of Dundonald 1775-1860 is an honest to God hero. I first became curious when I spotted a large statue of him in Santiago, Chile in the 60s. The statue plaque stated that he had founded the Chilean Navy. Further investigation led me to find out that Cochran had ferried General Don José de San Martín's troops from Valparaiso to Callao where the Argentine general liberated Perú from the Spaniards. Later on, in a war between Argentina and Brazil, somehow the Irish-born founder of the Argentine navy Almirante Guillermo (William) Brown commanded a fleet against Cochrane who led the Brazilian navy. In 1801 when Cochrane captured El Gamo he used the ploy of hoisting an American flag to confuse the Spaniards.
In Patrick O'Brian's Master And Commander, the first of his superb nautical novels, El Gamo becomes the Spanish xebec-frigate Cacafuego and the Speedy is the sloop Sophie. His Majesty's sloop Sophie is led by Commander John Aubrey whose personality is much like Cochran. Both Cochran and Aubrey(not so swift on land as on the high seas) become involved in financial scandals.
The recent, extremely hot weather preceded by a very wet spring has made many of my roses ball-up and not open. This has been a plague with the multipetaled Bourbons and the Albas like Maiden's Blush and my recent aquisition the hybrid Alba Königin von Dänemark. Today I inspected the plant and found that the flowers were wilting at the edges and one flower in particular (above, at bottom of the rose scan)was a good example of what we rosarians call proliferation.
Peter Beales says of proliferation in his Classic Roses:
Some of the more double-flowered old-fashioned roses will occasionally sprout a molformed bud from the centre. This is known as proliferation and is a most unpleasant sight. The phenomenon usually occurs in the early flowers, and in the case of the repeat-flowering shrubs, seldom reappears on autumn flowers. Close inspection of the misshapen flowers reveals that for some reason, probably genetic, the reproductive organs, in particular the pistils, have become fused, and instead of developing normally, have changed into another complete flower bud, which grows out of the centre of the bloom.
When I looked at the proliferating flower of my Königin von Dänemark, after the initial shock, I immediately thought of Master And Commander, my favourite Patrick O'Brian novel from the series that feature Captain Jack Aubrey and his physician/spy friend Stephen Maturin.
In the first chapter Jack and Stephen meet at a concert at the Governor's House music room in Port Mahon. The concert highlight is Locatelli's C Major Quartet. Maturin and Aubrey disagree on the beat of the piece and they almost duel over it. But in the end, reason prevails and they become inseperable friends.
I thought of the Spanish xebec-frigate Cacafuego because the proliferating rose looked like it was throwing up (spewing from inside) green fire. Cacafuego literally means shit spewer.