|The roses featured in today's blog - 29 May 2022|
My grandmother often told me, “Cuando el diablo no tiene nada que hacer con el rabo espanta moscas.” This translates to, “When the devil is bored he swats flies with his tail.”
Right now, 29 May 2022 I have nothing to do that I have to do. I have no jobs, prospect of work (I do not need to, as thanks to Rosemary, I am financially independent and secure) or any pressing obligations except feeding my cats Niño and Niña, walking with Niño around the block and tending to the garden.
My daughter Hilary visits once a week so I have to prepare (because I want to and like to) a good meal for her. And that’s it.
Then there is that garden with which I have an ambivalent relationship. It is lovely and so many of the plants remind me of Rosemary. She planted many of them; we bought many of them together; so many are her favourites but in the end I grieve that I and her plants are alive and she is not.
Writing this blog is my version of swatting flies.
Today I saw a problem that reminded me of going to the dog pound with Rosemary in Mexico around 1973 when our Antonio, our boxer died. There was a cage with all these dogs barking at us for attention. There was a gray, very quiet little dog with some Airedale in her that stared at us with melancholic eyes. So we took her home and named her Mouche as she was the colour of a fly.
Today’s problem was that there were many “barking” roses and one that was not.
What was I going to do? I can only write one blog per day and I don’t have my friend Tim Bray’s intelligence to have a blog like his Ongoing in which he writes, without dates when he wants to.
To solve this problem and seeing that I can only swat flies one at a time I am writing this blog in sections on today’s date.
|Rosa 'Leander' 29 May 2022|
The first rose is Rosa ‘Leander’ which was an English Rose we had in our Kerrisdale garden that Rosemary adored, particularly as it did well in a shady spot. It was a rare rose that was shade tolerant. It died when we brought it to our Kits garden. Rosemary became upset. A friend of hers offered to give her a rose she thought was Leander. It was and Rosemary beamed. I have written about this rose many times.
The second rose is an interloper. Growing in the pot with Leander was this single rose. It is probably a cane coming out from the original root stock on to which Leander was grafted. Should I cut this cane? I have decided to keep it as I deem it a survivor.
|Mystery rose - 29 may 2022|
The third rose is a pleasant discovery. For a couple of years I identified it as the English Rose Rosa Benjamin Britten’. Check this recent blog. I was wrong! I have another pot with Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’. It is in bloom right now but the blooms look disfigured and I suspected it had to do with the terrible spring. I was wrong. Benjamin Britten is Charles de Mills and I should have known. Besides its intense colour a singular feature is that it has a thin edge if seen from the side. It is as if someone with a sharp razor sliced part of the top.
|Rosa 'Charles de Mills' 29 May 2022|
The mystery now is where is Benjamin Britten and what is that rose with the Charles de Mills metal ID?
Lastly I have a second interloper that is very lovely. I have two roses,both Gallicas, Rosa ‘James Mason’ and Rosa ‘La Belle Sultane’. Both are intensely red and have very yellow and prominent stamens.
|Rosa 'Dr. Huey' 29 May 2022|
So does Rosa ‘Dr. Huey’named after a 19th century Philadelphia dentist with multi talents. This rose blooms only once (non-remontant in rose parlance like the Gallica James Mason and La Belle Sultane. It is fragrant and quite healthy in my garden. How did it get to our garden?
The fascinating story of Dr Huey - the Man
Before Rosemary died she often went to the old house (I could never find the heart to go with her). In one of the last times she noticed a rose bush still in the back lane. With a spade she was able to dig it out and brought it home. When it bloomed it was this red rose with yellow stamens. We only had two in the old garden. What could this one be?
The answer is simple. For many years the roses sold in Vancouver came from California and Dr. Huey was used as a vigorous root stock to graft rose on to. Our rose must have died in that back lane and from it emerged a victoriously surviving and lovely Dr. Huey!
And that is special as it came to Kits via Rosemary and her spade.
And for anybody curious about the rose stem with large and sharp prickles in the first photo read here.