The Return Of Rosa ‘Baron Girod de l'Ain’Thursday, June 30, 2011
Rosa ‘Baron Girod de l'Ain’. This rose could be regarded as a novelty when in actual fact it has it’s own garden worthiness. An interesting rose, flowers cupped and full, of bright crimson red with white edging to each wavy petal, fragrant and healthy. Growth can be a little floppy, dressed with dark leaves and stout thorns. Repeat flowering.
1.2 x 0.9m 4 x 3' Reverchon France 1897, Peter Beales
In 1974 Rosemary and I decided that we wanted to leave the uncertainty of Mexico City which we thought was not a healthy place for our daughters to grow up. So we put our house for sale and prepared to move to Vancouver. To our shock nobody wanted to buy our house and as we had left our jobs I realized I had to make money in some way. With a Pentax S-3, three lenses and loaded with Kodak Tri-X I began to take portraits of the children of wealthy Mexican families. Before long I was making good money and my neighbours were telling me, “Alex, fate is telling you to change your mind and to stay with us here in Mexico.” In many ways I thought they were right but we had made up our mind and we finally sold our house and moved to Vancouver. I wonder what would have been of my life and of my life with Rosemary and our two daughters had we stayed?
As we prepare for our 3700km to South Texas with our granddaughters I have been working in the garden. When I mow the lawn I usually do not use a grass catcher as the mulching mechanism of the mower leaves the cut grass on the lawn and this not only does not harm it but adds nitrogen back into the soil. This time around I have used the grass catcher and I placed the trimmings under my hydrangeas which are the first to suffer any kind of drought. After I dropping the grass trimmings I water them well and this mulch helps to keep the moisture in for a longer time. Also for reasons that are not yet know roses like to have grass trimmings at their base. Perhaps it’s the cooling action.
I have pruned back rhodos to let air and light into my darker beds. A three week vacation will mean that the garden will have to fend for itself. Bruce Stewart, my granddaughter’s father will be watering when needed and we have hired a gardener to mow the lawn in ten days. That should help to make the garden look pretty good.
What is sad is that we will not be around to see the glorious blooming of all of my roses. Most have given me a good show already even the once blooming Albertine is out but it will not hit its peak until a week from now. Rosa ‘Fair Bianca’ at its best might generate ten flowers in a season. At this point there are 15!
Rosa ‘Complicata’ is huge and full of flowers as are my two mottled or marbled Gallicas, Alain Blanchard and Rosa ‘ Soleil Brillant’. Gallicas bloom only once but they make up for it by having lots of flowers. James Mason, Hansa and Charles de Mills are covered.
In a way I feel like my roses and the garden are beckoning like my Mexican friends did back in 1974 to change my mind. “Don’t leave us,” my roses seem to be telling me. “We will reward you with a display that will amaze you!”
I am not a bad gardener but I do kill some of my plants. I have come to accept that plants like humans have life spans and that these life spans can vary from plant to plant. Some are short lived. Some cannot take repeated wet weather or sudden frosts in March.
One rose that I have sorely missed is an exotic hybrid perpetual that smells like raspberries. It is a dark crimson red and the blooms feature a rare trait of a white edge on the petals. When you see Rosa ‘Baron Girod de l'Ain’ you see a most unusual rose. It is not easy to grow and it does not bloom generously. My specimen died three years ago and I miss how Rebecca with her beautiful French can pronounce the name.
It was about five years ago that one day I asked Rebecca in the car to describe and name all my roses. To my shock and delight she did not forget the Baron!
When the Baron died I knew that it would probably be impossible to replace it. Garden centers are not doing well with our changing times and their inventory has become simpler and boring. Exotic roses are not to be found in our area. That I found Rosa ‘Alain Blanchard’ at Garden Works is quite unusual but not as unusual as finding Rosa 'Gruss an Aachen' its stems dipped in protective wax (serious rose gardeners would never buy a rose in a pot with that wax!) at Rona. Neither rose would be available anywhere now.
Rebecca came over and I told her, “Rebecca I want to show you something.” I went to a spot in the garden, one where I had never planted a rose and pointed at a glorious crimson flower with a white edge on its petals.” Rebecca looked at it in amazement and with her beautiful French she said, “Rosa ‘Baron Girod de l'Ain’”.
I can only think that before my Baron died it sent a runner underground a few feet away and it grew and finally flowered today.
We are going to Texas but Rosemary and I will miss our garden, the roses and our cats. Leaving home is not easy even if the trip promises to be exciting. As excited as I am I cannot wait to come back and see if the Baron will be around to greet me.