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 so 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.
“A piece of sky and a chunk of earth lie lodged in the heart of every human being.”Thomas Moore
The roses in my garden were in need of encouragement and care. The weeds and lawn were growing beautifully but in the wrong place and there are tell tale 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 a plants health. Never a truer word was said than by Albert Camus when he says that
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
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 replaced by a soft, calm breeze and complete stillness at times.
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1861
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 visible from the kitchen window I am attempting to get it to climb up the old tank stand. It has deep red, orange and yellow blooms tantalising in the Autumn light. If the frost will hold 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, to move things about that did not work or are in the way and to 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 years garden.
“In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
– William Blake, 1757-1827, English poet and artist
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 the rose up and placed it in a pot in a protected spot where it would be watered along with other pots when I was absent. To my delight on my return it was flourishing with healthy glossy foliage and huge buds that have opened to massive gently coloured blooms. A reward for the effort put in when you see a turn around like this rose plant.
There have been many success stories during the Autumn days that have given me a new sense of accomplishment, just in time before the weather and winter brings dormancy to the rose garden. It was a particularly difficult summer just gone and I did lose some roses but the ones that remain are highlighting the quality of the perfume and blooms possible when given the correct conditions. Along with this is also the fact that 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.
“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.”Paul Theroux
Autumn is my favourite time of year there is a serenity about the days not just because it is settled a less windy but we relish the warm sunny day and There is an anticipation of the 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. Autumn to me is a bonus every bloom and extra reward for the effort of keeping things alive in summer, a reward for the patience of last winter and a last hooray for the flowers and plants to show off.
Title quote by RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Content by Di Baker 2020