I thought I would devote a post to my peachy roses. These are all David Austin English roses. Because they, frankly, are the best.
These roses have surprised me. I did not expect to love them quite so much. I have always been a crimson-purple kind of a girl. But it turns out I have my peachy moments.
First, ‘Lady of Shalott’.
This is hailed by David Austin as the perfect rose to grow for a beginner. I would say that all English roses are perfect for the beginner.
They need a decent planting hole of a spade’s depth and width, some compost or well-rotted manure dug in with the soil, and plenty of watering in. Following the first flush of flowers, you can lightly fork some blood-and-bone through the soil around them*. Then I add a generous bucket of well-rotted manure in autumn or spring every year. And prune back hard to 30-50cm tall in February. Oh, and deadhead the flowers during the summer, so that it keeps producing more.
I know that might sound complicated if you’ve never grown roses before, but that is a year’s work. I’m always here to hold your hand if you need help!
But back to Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’. Here she is in bud, looking skyward:
And here she is full-blown, looking down.
She is named after the Tennyson poem where the Lady of Shalott is trapped in her tower, weaving tapestries, her magic web, without being able to look out upon the world, except through a mirror. When she dares look up, her magic web is released:
Out flew the web and floated wide—
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.
She floats down a river on a boat, dies because of the curse, and is fawned upon by doting knights. Typical.
Feminist literary critics read this as the fear of female sexuality, or creative freedom, or just the threat of women being let loose upon society. I like to think that this Lady of Shalott is liberated, and mingling with the world now. She is great for slightly wild, unkempt places. I grow her at the boundary between the flower garden and the allotment, where she can dance with the wild flowers. I would like to think that she is weaving a web of magic across the garden.
I partner Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’ with this rather fabulous Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’. My mum has a way with cuttings, and has hatched this for me. I love the plush purple of this salvia. It is another of those iridescent flowers, that just shimmers in the light, shifting its colour in a way I find thrilling. If you look at the edge of the flower, it seems to shine ultraviolet. I love the dark stems too, and the unopened buds, which are smoky mauve. The shape of the flower itself reminds me of a cello, or a bird showing off its wings.
In some lights, this salvia is just slightly more magenta-purple. Here it is with Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’. Oh, I love purple and apricot together!
Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’ smells of apple strudel. Which is quite impressive for a rose.
The second peachy rose I want to show you is Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’. The real Lady Em was a resourceful woman who lived on her wits. She is most famous for being the muse of the painter Greville and the mistress of Nelson. From reading her Wikipedia profile I would say that she was a survivor. An intelligent, creative, entrepreneurial, adventurous, resilient and joyous one. Her namesake shares a certain joie-de-vivre, freshness and warmth:
Its red stems and dark green foliage give it a seriousness and depth, to balance the lightness of the flower.
This rose also allows me to indulge my thing for purple and orange. I’ve gone for full saturation here, with my favourites, Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’.
The flowers have a lovely globe shape, often with a little hole at the centre. I love that the outer petals are rosy, and the centre holds dark depths. This rose has such softness, and tenderness.
Here Lady Em is, in her maturity. She never hangs her head, but remains poised for all life may throw at her. She contains herself in a neat little cup, looking dignified and self-assured.
Lady Em smells divine. She is incredibly fruity and zingy and lively. She makes me want to sing.
Finally, here is Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’. This rose is suitably splendiferous and scrumdiddlyumptious.
This is a neat little rose, slightly smaller than ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’. It has quite a formal arrangement of softly folded petals within a definite cup. The flowers tend to look upwards. It is palest apricot, fading to almost to cream.
This rose looks beautiful with Geranium ‘Orion’. The delicate apricot rose is perfectly balanced by the airy blue-lilac of the geranium.
I worried that this rose might be too yellow for my rose garden, but actually that is exactly what is needed. The golden apricot flowers shine across the border, enlivening the whole space. Can you see them, right across the border? Excuse the washing line, but they are just to the left of this!
I’ll come in a little closer, if that helps.
Doesn’t it shine? And this time, this is a view from the seating area. This time it’s in the middle towards the back…
The scent of ‘Roald Dahl’ is subtle. It is green and leafy and subdued, with a comforting whiff of tea. It doesn’t knock me off my feet, but it intrigues me.
Out of these three roses, ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is my favourite, because she has it all: handsome foliage, complex colour, graceful form, incredible scent, and she combines beautifully with other favourite plants.
Which one do you like? Do you grow any of these? Or any other peaches?
If you want to see other favourite roses, click on the ‘roses’ tab below, or on the purple ‘roses’ category link above the title of this post. You can always start a new Google search with the words ‘The Mindful Gardener’ + ‘rose’ + the name of the rose you want to search.
*Skip the blood-and-bone if you have foxes – I recommended this to my boss and her garden was then excavated by ravenous foxes. We also have foxes, but not such greedy ones. If in doubt, try it around a less-prized specimen first. Other slow-release fertilisers are available. I feed my pot-grown with the occasional watering-can of dilute liquid sea-weed.