A La FrancesaTuesday, June 09, 2009
Since my Spanish grandmother was born in the 19th century many of the things she told me had to do with her memories as a little girl. The Catholic world of Spain and her former colonies were still socked by Darwin. “Asomar el rabo” or to show one’s tail was how my grandmother would describe a person’s faux pa. They did not know any better because they were still close to monkey ancestors.
Napoleon was still big in Spain. Spaniards to this day use the expression “despedirse a la francesa” or, to say goodbye French style which means without saying goodbye”. One day asked my grandmother the origin of the expression. She told me that as soon as Wellington landed in Portugal and started going up the Iberian Peninsula the French noticed. When Wellington began to gain victories the French panicked and left, “without saying goodbye!”
Tomorrow Wednesday I leave for Austin. I have been busy today getting pictures for magazines scanned and tying loose ends. I had to water the garden well and put my pots out of the sun so that they will not dry out so quickly and give Rosemary a bit of a break in the incessant watering she will be doing until the weekend. There seems to be no rain in sight.
I have never noticed Rosemary deadheading my roses as she believes they are my domain. This meant I had to put on gloves and deadhead my tall Blanc double de Coubert. It has tons of tiny prickles so it is a tough job.
Many of my roses like the Gallicas will only bloom once. Some are blooming now and when I come back in a week they will either be waning or over. This is what has made me melancholy.
But my melancholy was lifted by four friends that decided to show their face today. I would assert that they are saying goodbye to me in a most un-French and courteous manner.
The large (5 inches wide) almost white rose, Mary Webb, is perhaps the most fragrant myrrh scented English Rose of my garden. Alas, it is not one of David Austin’s best. I might get four or five flowers in a short span of a few weeks and then it will not re-bloom. She makes up for all those failings by producing large flowers that rival that other English Rose, Gertrude Jekyll.
The smaller white rose, the English Rose Fair Bianca, is almost as myrrh fragrant as Mary Webb but she is remontant and her scent is complex with the addition of hints of lemon and magnolia soap.
The light pink rose is a Bourbon rose that sported from Reine Victoria. She is Mme. Pierre Oger. She is a reluctant bloomer and her canes are thin tall and spindly. But her colour is a translucent pink that is almost white and sometimes a very pale yellow. I have often wondered how a woman’s claim to fame could be her husband’s.
The fourth rose is one that competes with the other three for my favourite. It is the mysterious Gallica Charles de Mills. Nobody has been able to figure out who the man was. This particular bloom is smallish because it has not opened fully. It is the first and it is not even from my own bush. Charles de Mills is notorious for sending runners and offspring plants will pop up. I have two of them. This one I have promised to Rebecca and I will dig it out for her in the fall. It is most appropriate that Charles has said goodbye courtesy of Rebecca and there is a small possibility that when I return he will still be around to greet me back.