The Winter Rose Catalogues
It's the perfect time to think and write about winter roses. But this is not an article about humble Hellebores. It's about new summer rose catalogues, read in the wintry June gloom in front of the log-burner.
It's about new rose gardens of the mind - rows of pretty standards, new floribundas and flower carpets, archways dripping with flowers from old fashioned roses - and not a speck of rust or a aphid in sight!
I always ignore the down-side to roses, when planning and plotting in the reflective depths of winter. Black spot and aphids are forgotten. Images of the deadly orange rust pustules which decimated my original pergola New Dawns are deftly banished from rose-memory. Expansive rose arches with flowery ceilings of New Dawn are supposed to be romantic, with soft pale pink rose petals fluttering down on a warm summer breeze. Delicate showers of orange rust falling on garden visitors relaxing below are definitely not part of the plan.
The winter rose catalogue is full of promises - fragrance, delicacy, and summery floriferous delights, from the deepest crimson reds to the palest peach pastels. English roses, patio roses, country scramblers and climbing beauties are all ready and waiting to be ordered, with petals and colours to drool over.
This winter I am actually allowed to buy some new roses that are not on sale tables or in bargain bins. This is my reward for being a tireless garden worker in the weeks leading up to mid-winter's day. I am even allowed a harmless flirt with some famous hybrid teas - my first Peace rose (oops - a supermarket special) is actually potted up, ready to be planted in the garden.
John Clare Rose in Mid-Winter
This autumn I dug and planted a special Birthday Rose Garden. As long as I remember the angles of sun and the lengths of sunshine hours, a little winter expansion would definitely be in order. And completely new rose garden areas are also possible. They are easily dug while sitting in the warmth of the log-burner, in the five o'clock darkness. Funny - these beautiful new rose gardens are completely weed-free, in my mind's eye...
Bright Pink Flower carpet Rose in Mid-Winter
I am also allowed some specially purchased roses, which are to be planted on posts in the Hazelnut Orchard. In fact, a complete row of trees has deliberately been missed out, leaving me room for a rose avenue. In here I fancy an old fashioned roses theme, and some serious research is imminent. Also some serious encouragement is needed so that the resident handyman will erect the posts and deal with the necessary irrigation requirements.
There are so many worthy roses that I don't as yet grow in the Moosey garden - like the hybrid tea Peace. I like the sound of the striped rose 'Oranges and Lemons' - and the old established sentimental favourite 'Birthday Present', which I'm sure could climb somewhere, and be justifiably purchased for someone's birthday.
The English Rose Benjamin Britten in Mid-Winter
Here are the first three new modern roses on my mid-winter's preparatory rose list - it's modest, sensible, and terribly restrained - so far!
Yellow Flower Carpet (Noack) : I have other varieties of these mass-promoted roses. They pop up in hardware stores and supermarkets - the common retailer's rose. I'm no rose snob, though - I happily grow the original bright pink and white varieties. And I'll happily buy the latest yellow.
Burgundy Iceberg : My catalogue mentions the colour of 'luxurious, regal burgundy wine'. OK - I'm hooked! From my fireside chair in front of the log-burner this sounds like the perfect winter rose.
Grace (David Austin) : Grace claims to be a proper apricot coloured rose, and I haven't got it. Most of the other David Austin roses in the catalogue sound vaguely familiar, and the rose William Shakespeare (which I have) has the year '2000' added to his name - does this matter?
Rose Compassion in Winter
That's quite enough for now - oddly, I've slightly lost my nerve. Do I really have room for more roses? Do I have enough gardening money? Can we happily eat potato casserole for the next month? Hmm...I might have to stick to Hellebores!
By the way, all the roses pictured on this page were faithfully flowering in the Moosey garden two weeks before the winter solstice.