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


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A few weeks back Rosemary, our granddaughters and I went to stay at a nice resort in Parksville, BC. We visited the nearby Milner Gardens which was created by British socialite Veronica Milner. There weren't too many roses in the garden as I was told, "Veronica did not care much for roses." Tucked into an area where a venerable Master Gardener stood watch over plants that visitors could purchase I spotted a very large rose bush with a myriad of blooms each containing 60 or more rose-pink petals, each with a deeper reverse and shadings of magenta. Best of all they were very fragrant. I enquired what rose it was but the venerable mum did not know, "If you could tell me I would be most thankful as everybody asks, " she replied. I did the obvious, I got on my knees and searched for a label by the thick stock of canes. And I found one that proclaimed the rose to be Rosa 'Aloha'. Can you imagine this plant snob (me) with a rose by that name? If I were to accommodate Aloha, then Tropicana would soon follow! And who knows would Red Patio Wonder follow suit? I put my nose into Aloha again and I was hit by a familiarity that was to obvious to discount. And I remembered. In 1985 Shropshire rosarian David Austin had created Abraham Darby by crossing a rose called Yellow Cushion with Aloha. The very old fashioned looking offspring had inherited Aloha's striking perfume and simply pulled the stops on intensity. I left Milner Gardens with more respect for David Austin and his roses.

Peter Beales, the expert British rose expert grew up admiring and smelling the Alba rose Maiden's Blush. Its perfume is unequivocal. It is the perfume of Maiden's Blush. The quality of the pinkness of this rose has given rise to many names besides Maiden's Blush. Consider La Virginale, La S├ęduisante and Cuisse de Nymphe. But after a few weeks in Spring she retires until the next year. David Austin gave us an equally romantic Sweet Juliet with an identical perfume. This rose is in bloom today and will be continue until the fall.

David Austin's English Roses combine the mystique, beauty, perfume and wonder of the old roses with a liberal dosage of botanical MSG. We get more of the same, for a longer period of time.

And here is a rare (in my situation) photograph of Abraham Darby in my garden that is not a rose scan and Rebecca and Lauren are not holding her. But then she can hold her own.


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