Rhododendrons or Roses?
Agnes Rugosa Rose
The late spring Moosey garden is bright and sunny, and there's a very unfortunate competition for the Head Gardener's attention. The mid-season rhododendrons are up against the first of the many roses. Guess who wins? Rhododendrons or roses?
Oh dear. Those roses, even when sprouting green with the tiniest buds, have the ability to distract me. After all, I've been enjoying a very colourful spring rhododendron wave for some weeks by now. Familiarity doesn't quite breed contempt, but some gardeners bore easily! Oops...
Roses feel like summer to me, and that's heart-warming and relaxing. Some of the clearly visible mid-season rhododendrons look alarmed by the warmer, sunny days. And so I get nervous, and worry about whether to shift them somewhere cooler. This is not relaxing.
My well-positioned mid-season rhododendrons are very beautiful, but they stay aloof from the other features in their borders. By contrast, my first roses make huge statements of connection. Agnes, a huge lemon fluffy rugosa, towers over the Hen House Garden bench by the water - 'Sit here underneath my pretty flowers' she murmurs.
The Woodshed Rambler Rose
The Banksia Lutea stretches over the washing line (which I still try to use) and imperiously up the old plum tree, a rosy King of the Castle. The apple-blossom pink rambler delicately blankets the woodshed with fluffy-pink fragrance. Well, perhaps not so delicate for anyone mowing the lawns underneath!
Roses, Roses, Roses...
I always plant the smaller roses on the edges of the borders, and when I wander past they push themselves forward and shout: 'Look at meeeeee!' 'I smell nice!' 'I'm the prettiest pink'. Others like red Dublin Bay get my attention for quite a different reason. 'Ha ha! I've got rust. Already! Thought you'd never notice...'
My rhododendrons, on the other hand, are silent shrubs. They are often tucked safely in the middle of things, preferring dappled shade rather than space in the sun. Their flowering transition can be misleading, too. Buds can be deeply colour-saturated, with the open bloom pale and wishy-washy. This is appealing in the spring garden, but not so in the harsher sunlight of early summer.
Mid-Season Lilac Rhododendron
And let's be fair - the first rhododendrons to flower have already been gushed over, photographed at bud-burst, and Non-Gardening Partner has been dragged off into the greenery to admire them. It's just those later ones that don't get a fair deal. Pushy rose flowers appear, and I'm bewitched, along with my camera. I do daily bloom checks, I pick the most fragrant for the house vases. So who wins? Oh dear...
Pale Mid-Season Rhododendrons
Update, Three Heady November Weeks Later...
Aha! Guess what? I've already started to take the roses for granted! There are quite a lot (perhaps too many), and now random roses in all sorts of garden places are starting to flower.
Late Pink Rhododendron
So the novelty is over, and I'm now back to noticing the late rhododendrons, gasping and gushing with delight. A rich pink! A beautiful deep blue! Fickle woman gardener!