Now that the flurry of Easter and all that goes with preparing a house and food for the family is over, our rural location seems deserted, and the sounds of children in the garden have quietened. Yet, the garden remains full of excitement and activity as if, by magic, hundreds of roses are in bloom or are budded, ready to explode.
Gardens take time. I took a few snaps yesterday and realised the extent and variety of roses in bloom so late in the season. I also was aware that the beauty and abundance of many roses has only just been fully realised now after several seasons of growth. Trust in nature is essential in the process of gardening as Gertrude Jekyll was famously quoted as saying
Soul Sister Rose
The fact that plants require time is one of the most important aspects of the pleasure of gardening: the anticipated wait, the watchful eye and the sense of hope and humility. It keeps one enthralled and provides something to look forward to as the garden matures through the seasons.
Lady of Shalott Rose
For the gardener or designer, a massive amount of wishful thinking goes on as well when we add new specimens, and play with positions and ideas, always hoping that at least some of them will create the right balance in the garden and flourish.
When I was in one section of the garden yesterday I noticed perfect blooms were out on some standard roses planted in the very beginning. It has taken quite some time 4-5 years to make their full presence in the landscape, a humbling experience of space and time to live through and now they do look amazing.
Patience is an art that develops in gardening and it happens without even realising. Patiently waiting for plant maturity and also to see if the landscape is improved or not by our work in adding new plants bulbs, annuals and perennials, and how they interact. One can be hasty in making changes that sometimes are best left to see what may happen naturally and for any problems to resolve themselves. During the drought a few years ago these standard roses ( below) growing along the front fence were almost pulled out as they were completely defoliated or burnt and now in Autumn 2023- magnificent blooms have appeared and they have stayed perfect for several weeks.
Dare I mention the patience required for planting trees when so many are still small after ten years? It is the same with arbours of roses. It takes several seasons to get them going and they do not always cover the archway the way we would like. So much depends on the type of rose. the season, the weather, and any pests or diseases that may slow the process. After several attempts and failures I’ve finally made the right choices for the various structures in the garden that climbing roses ramble over. It is a waiting game to see when the newer climbing roses will have made it across the top of the arches: Quicksilver, Blue Moon, and Cecile Brunner roses.
Fortunately, apart from possessing a green thumb many gardeners are visionaries and can see the plants, trees, shrubs or roses as they will be in the future. In a world dominated by instant gratification, the reliance on patience and the heady sense of anticipation is palpable. I often say this Thomas Cooper sentiment to myself and others in my ever-present yearning for betterment in the landscape.
Gardening teaches the gardener many other traits apart from patience; tenacity, curiosity, dealing with failure, looking for better solutions, and overcoming adversity. One needs to be stoic to garden. I have had to forgo wide varieties of plants that did not want to grow in my region, and on the flip side, I have had great success with nurturing some roses out of ill health that are now the finest specimens in the garden. It is a game of wait and see, trying new ideas and coping with mistakes and at times failures.
On the other hand, one of the greatest joys of any garden is simply watching things grow and seeing how all the small acts we do each day that seem insignificant at the time go towards building the landscape. Recently, I feel a sense of accomplishment that, despite the fact the garden is rural and is surrounded by a terrible fence, it now looks like a garden. The trouble is I see the garden as it will be rather than how it actually is because I know what I plan to achieve in the dormancy of winter. Individually the roses are magnificent, but the creation of a garden as more of a collection of all those elements, and their interaction creates an ephemeral beauty; a garden.
After culling some of the not-so-great roses and replacing them with my chosen styles and colours that, I’ve found work well here is paying off; the Autumn roses have been spectacular and should continue to bloom for several more weeks judging by the massive amount of red tips of new growth since the cooler weather started, and many are smothered in buds. The newer roses, Spiced Coffee, Pope John Paul 11, Quicksilver, Desdemona, Adorable, Grace, and Mango Tango roses, provide glimpses of what may come to fruition in a few seasons.
Gardens are not static but constantly changing and always moving forward; the slow interaction between the weather, light, time and the season. Their beauty can be so fleeting, yet, it is fascinating that plants sometimes behave and grow so differently from what we, at times imagine. Plants, especially roses, can surprise us with their charm, strength, tolerance of storms, winds, pests and scorching heat but will always gift us with extraordinary beauty.
Content Di Baker 2023
All rose images Autumn 2023 in the garden.
Header Image Joseph’s Coat Rose