Who killed the Lady of Shalott?

The Summer glow that radiates from The Lady Of Shalott Rose is one of the reasons it is my favorite rose. The colours are rich, in shades of deep apricot, red and salmon pink with a faint touch of yellow underneath that gleams in the sun all season. The flower is romantic and shaped like a chalice cup, being wide and low with up to sixty petals loosely arranged, creating real depth to the bloom. Distinctly different, long lasting and a stunning rose.

In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.

Sam Llewelyn
Courtesy of David Austin Roses UK

So why did I kill my Lady of Shalott Rose? Of course it was unintentional, nonetheless, I still feel guilty that I put such a beautiful rose at risk.

My Garden photo of The Lady of Shalott 2018

“Do not watch the petals fall from the rose with sadness, know that, like life, things sometimes must fade, before they can bloom again.”

Lady of Shalott rose was planted in the very first stage of the garden in the first collection of roses. I loved it. It was always healthy and attractive with a steady joy of perfect apricot flowers all season. Then, last Summer with the extended hot dry, 40 degree heat in the long, afternoon sun it got badly burned and did not look happy.

If you are not killing plants, you are not really stretching yourself as a gardener.

J.C. Raulston

In my defence I thought in winter I would move it to a more protected spot ready for this season. Sadly the move, combined with the intense, dry conditions and severe late frosts caused it to to give up and die. Even with eco seaweed, water, care and attention The Lady of Shalott is no longer in the garden. Shame.

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

Janet Kilburn Phillips

Ironically, The poem “The Lady of Shalott” is about death. Although, the rose was named for the Tennyson Society and the 200th anniversary of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The Lady of Shalott was also one of his favourite poems.

The story in the poem is one of unrequited love. Lady of Shalott who is in love with Sir Lancelot, is imprisoned on the island of Shalott in a castle close to King Arthur’s Camelot. She one day catches a glimpse of him in her mirror, and cannot resist glancing at him directly. A curse is placed upon her and she is only able to see the outside world through the reflection in a mirror. Doomed then to spend her days weaving the reflected observations into a tapestry.

Lady of Shalott shrub rose was bred by David Austin in 2009 and is part of the English Rose Collection. David Austin has said this rose was considered to be one of his healthiest roses being robust and hardy. A prolific bloomer with elegant slightly arching branches complete with a blend of spiced apples and cloves tea rose scent.

Diana from Silkies Rose Garden at Clonbinane Victoria, is sending me two beautiful, potted specimens of Lady Of Shalott rose this week and I can hardly wait until they arrive on Friday. This time I will plant in a more protected area where I can enjoy the charming flowers and not think of moving them even if it does get sunburnt!

A section from the Poem “The Lady of Shalott”

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
       Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

The Lady Of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, painted in 1888.

And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance
With glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Images courtesy of David Austin Roses UK

Content Di Baker 2019

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