A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


My First Date With Charles
Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Deadheading a rose is a relaxing task. It is sometimes.

If I have had a busy day it gives me the opportunity to smell the roses, see who is coming out, who's in trouble with some pest or who wants water. But deadheading a once-blooming rose is like going to the peer to say goodbye to someone who is leaving on a trip, Since a once-blooming rose parades it charms for perhaps for two to three weeks it is like the visit of a favourite friend who lives abroad. Before I know it she is going home. And there is that question in my mind, "Will I be here next year? Will I be alive come spring?" After all none of us can be sure that we will make it in tandem with our roses which somehow have made it back from the crusades and survived abandonment in long forgotten cemeteries. Such was the case of the lovely Damask Rosa 'Omar Khayyam'.

Today I did not have the heart to deadhead Charles de Mills. As Rosemary, Plata (my cat) and I went for our walk around the block I spied Charles in our back lane. He is a bit forelorn. All it blooms, except for one, were in decline. I remembered the first time I lay eyes on Charles de Mills that Gallica of wonder.

It was late July 1990 and I had gone to Adamson Heritage Nursery in Langley. I had the job from Canada Post to find 6 Canadian roses and photograph them. Four would become stamps. In late July most roses were past their peak so a large wholesale nursery was my only chance to find something. And I did, Rosa 'Champlain' and Rosa 'Morden Centennial'. As I was about to leave I saw what seemed an aparition. It was a very large shrub that was covered with purple/blue/red roses that were quartered and so flat that it seemed someone had used a barber's razor to slice the front off. I inquired and was told it was Rosa 'Charles de Mills'. The caretaker then cut about 50 of the blooms and gave them to me, "We use this plant to take cuttings. We don't need the flowers. Take them and enjoy them."

I took the roses home and the scent in the car was unbelievable. When I got home I proudly showed Rosemary my booty. "I guess you are going to order this rose, aren't you?" She was right. And I do believe that was my first date with Charles. Today he said goodbye with that one perfect bloom. Let's hope it's the same time next year!


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Delia Brett - Contact High

Alexandria - Oriana - Alexandria

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A White Rose & A White Boeing 727

Death And The Maiden - Redux

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