Centre front in my mind and heart over the last few months are my roses. Living in isolation in a rural environment is quite usual, although not quite anti-social as we have experienced this year. Without the opportunity to see family and friends, my focus has been on the garden, and I have busily tried to make up for several long months of absence.
The roses in my garden needed encouragement and care. The weeds and lawn were growing beautifully but in the wrong place, and there are telltale signs of caterpillars, aphids, and black spot on some roses. Setting to work with eco seaweed, eco rose, amnigrow, seamungus, secateurs, and weeding gear, the garden is now improving, and the late-blooming roses happily showing us they are not giving up just yet.
Many roses continue to bloom across the garden even this late in Autumn. They stand out proudly and shine like a brilliant beacon of intense colour. I have been in awe most days as the late flowering roses open with such vibrancy.
It has been a worthwhile and gratifying few weeks bringing the roses back to such health and vigour. And especially to see glossy foliage, a sure sign of plant health. Never a truer word was said than by Albert Camus when he says
The foliage is spectacular now, glossy, fresh, and undamaged, such a welcome change. The Autumn days have been glorious, and so far, the frost has been kind, staying away and allowing the roses to bloom more profoundly than ever before. Each week gentle rain has fallen, and the relentless hot, dry wind is replaced by a soft, calm breeze and complete stillness at times.
Winter is approaching, though, and the days are shorter; the mornings and nights are cool. A wonderful time in any garden, where the garden seems to be more at peace. It is as if the roses were saying, ‘I will bloom just for fun and not because I have to prove anything to anyone ‘ as may be the case in Spring. The plants are happy, and it is a joy to see new growth for just a little bit before we lose all the leaves and plunge into winter.
A real stunner this year has been Josephs Coat. A rose I’m attempting to tame up the old tank stand visible from the kitchen window. The colours are deep red, orange, and yellow tantalising in the Autumn light. If the frost holds back for awhile, there are many more large buds to open on this gorgeous climbing rose.
Gardeners enter the world of nature and the cycles and rhythms of the seasons. Winter gives us a chance to recover, move things about that did not work or are in the way, and prepare for spring. Last year we had virtually no spring, and we seemed to go straight into a hot, dry summer. It was tough, but as all gardeners are eternal optimists and are .sure to say, “The garden will be better next year.” Winter brings a different focus in the garden of rest and the promise of things to come.
If the days are too cold or wet to garden all day, we can spend many happy hours inside in the warmth imagining the roses blooming, the seeds we will sow, and the trees we will plant. There are websites and catalogues to view and plans to design for next year’s garden.
My success story, though, is the rose named after Diana, Princess Of Wales. This rose was planted in the ground in a garden bed as a bare root rose last season, and for reasons unknown to me, it has never looked good and was not growing well. I feared it would eventually give up. So I dug out the rose and placed it in a pot in a protected spot where it would be watered along with other pots when away from the garden. To my delight, on my return, it was flourishing with healthy glossy foliage and huge buds that have opened to massive gently coloured blooms. The turn around was dramatic, and for me, a reward for taking extra care of this rose plant.
There have been many other success stories during the Autumn days that have given me a new sense of accomplishment, just in time before the weather and winter bring dormancy to the rose garden. It was a challenging summer just gone, and I did lose some roses, but the ones that remain highlight the quality of the perfume and blooms possible when given the correct conditions. Along with this, some roses are now much older and are finally blooming larger and more dramatically than when first planted. I have found that bare-root roses will take a few seasons to settle and mature before having full large blooms.
Autumn is my favourite time of year; there is a serenity about the days – settled and less windy. The fervour of summer has dissipated, yet can still languish in the warmth of sunny days with the early morning hint of cold days to come that makes you want to be in the garden enjoying it. Spring is more feverish full of anticipation and expectations, and we can be bitterly disappointed if the season is not hugely successful.
But autumn is a bonus. Every bloom an extra reward for the effort of keeping things alive in summer, a gift for the patience of last winter, and the last hooray for the flowers and plants to show off.
Title quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Content and Images by Di Baker 2020 with the exception of the image below David Klein Unsplash