|Rosa 'Duchess of Portland' 15 June 2023|
|Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, Duchess of Portland by Christian Friedrich Zincke, 1738|
The Portland rose was discovered in 1775 by the Duchess of Portland. It was also known as Damask Perpetual and was considered a great discovery because it was among the very first reblooming garden roses. Portland roses are considered one of the very best old roses for the small garden because they tend to form shrubs that are only 3-4 feet tall and wide. In addition, the blooms are very highly scented. Blooms range in color from pink to red. Portlands have dark green foliage that holds up well and helps show off the blooms. Portlands may be a little tender for very cold USDA hardiness zones. Portlands benefit from winter protection in zones 4-5. It has been found that Portlands need about 2–3 years to get established in a new location before reliable bloom can be expected.
Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (née Harley), Duchess of Portland (1715-1785), Collector of art and natural history specimens and patron of arts and sciences
As the only surviving child of Edward Harley, the Duchess of Portland inherited a considerable fortune which she spent on the biggest collection of natural history in Britain at the time. Her wealth afforded opportunities to employ experts such as the botanist Daniel Solander and even procure shells from the expeditions of James Cook. She drew the different specimens, aiming to publish a catalogue identifying and classifying each molluscan species collected. The herbarium she created is today housed at Kew Gardens. Along with her childhood friend, Mary Delany she was a member of the Bluestockings, a group of social intellectuals led by women and founded by her great friend Elizabeth Montagu.
Unlike other plants in my garden my roses give me a sense of history, as to where they came from and who discovered them. In other situations roses named after famous people like my Gallica Rose R. ‘James Mason’ give me the opportunity to go to my memory of all the films I saw Mason in.
Here you have a scan of Rosa ‘Duchess of Portland’ which was one of the first roses to be discovered that were remontant (bloomed more than once).
In my garden she is in a large pot that is in semi shade. This does not seem to affect her copious blooming.
In my blogs I like to mate my roses and photographs with poems. In these many years since I started my blog in 2006 I have come to read and remember many poems including those of Emily Dickinson, Julio Cortázar and others. It would seem that my roses have made me appreciate poetry and helped to make this idiot more literate.
I return to this poem by Jorge Luís Borges (here in both Spanish and English that contains that lovely line “Y el curioso color del Colorado”
La Lluvia - Jorge Luís Borges
Bruscamente la tarde se ha aclarado
Porque ya cae la lluvia minuciosa.
Cae o cayó. La lluvia es una cosa
Que sin duda sucede en el pasado.
Quien la oye caer ha recobrado
El tiempo en que la suerte venturosa
Le reveló una flor llamada rosa
Y el curioso color del colorado.
Esta lluvia que ciega los cristales
Alegrará en perdidos arrabales
Las negras uvas de una parra en cierto
Patio que ya no existe. La mojada
Tarde me trae la voz, la voz deseada,
De mi padre que vuelve y que no ha muerto.
The Rain :: J. L. Borges
The afternoon grows light because at last
Abruptly a minutely shredded rain
Is falling, or it fell. For once again
Rain is something happening in the past.
Whoever hears it fall has brought to mind
Time when by a sudden lucky chance
A flower called “rose” was open to his glance
And the curious color of the colored kind.
This rain that blinds the windows with its mists
Will gladden in suburbs no more to be found
The black grapes on a vine there overhead
In a certain patio that no longer exists.
And the drenched afternoon brings back the sound
How longed for, of my father’s voice, not dead.
[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Harold Morland]