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The early Rose…

I think the early roses somehow manage to capture my heart every year. Are they more beautiful because of the type of roses they are, or is it just that seeing them after a long, cold, winter is so rewarding and we can’t help but fall in love with them. Who knows?

We currently have around 130 rose bushes in the garden here at No 19… maybe that’s a lie! I think there are more, but I’ve just lost count. Every year I look forward to seeing the first ones flower and it’s often a surprise.

This year the first to flower was probably Dortmund. This climber sits by the gate to the garden which is a strange spot as it gets the sun, but is probably very dry and also overshadowed by the huge ancient Horse Chestnut tree that has sat outside No 19 since before the 1920s. This rose hasn’t done much in the last few years and if I thought something else would do well there I might have replaced it, but like many things here, I probably overlooked it and focused on something more pressing. And then this year as I was leaving the house one morning, I saw a flash of deep red by the garden gate. Dortmund has flowered and it’s finally taking off.

This was followed shortly afterwards by some of the larger, darker David Austins. Lady of Megginch had grown so much this spring and all those huge buds were just sitting there for what seemed like weeks… then, as if by magic, the whole bush is in bloom. The flowers are so large and heavy that they hang their heads down, but when you look into their faces, they’re just so beautiful.

Another early David Austin is Princess Anne. This is another bush that didn’t do too well at the beginning when I first planted it. It grew in an awkward manner and this spring I cut it right back hoping it would push back and become beautiful… and it’s done just that. The full bright pink flowers are so large and open that they almost look like pompoms, and then they fall scattering amazing pink and yellow confetti along the path to the formal pond.

Redoute was a rose recommended to me by a keen grower on Facebook and I didn’t regret getting this rose for one minute. It’s a subtle white… or is it pink… or lilac… it’s the kind of colour you can’t quite describe, and when you describe it as pink, you really feel you’re not doing it justice. I have a couple of these bushes and noticed they were early bloomers.

One of the most amazing bushes I have is Lady of Shalott. This is quite an important rose for me in many ways. Firstly I’m not really a fan of orange, but this rose has convinced me otherwise. Its colour is something quite spectacular… it’s like burning fire but at the same time soft and cool, with petals ranging from red through to orange and on to yellow.

Secondly, the poem, The lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, is one of my favorites and I still know it off by heart to this day. I also adore the painting by John William Waterhouse. When I lived in London I would often go to The Tate Gallery and sit in front of this painting just marveling at its beauty.

When I first came to live at No 19 my friend Lukas a well known gardener and garden writer came to visit my empty plot of land and gifted me a small rose bush. This just happened to be Lady of Shalott. Since that day it’s grown enormously and flowers all summer. It’s also an amazingly easy bush to grow cuttings from, so now I have about 3 of them.

There are a number of roses in the garden that are nameless. They were either given to me without a name, or I just forgot it.

As I was picking some today and arranging them in a new cloth vase, it felt like they were all actually opening while I was in the garden. In a few days the beds will be full of roses and although they’re all beautiful, the first ones always remain in my heart♥️