A rose is a long-term investment.
There is a substantial layout initially.
A good hole should be dug (I love digging holes), and timed so that they are just ready for your bare-root rose to arrive in November. When you see that magical brown-paper bag waiting by the door when you get home from work, you know dinner is going to be late that night.
You spread out the roots, just so, and start to sprinkle the mixture of soil and compost (or well-rotted manure) on top. The shovelling gets more confident as you check your level (the bud-union being just below the level of the soil). You firm it in first with fists, then with wellies. And give it a good drink.
Then you sit and wait for six months.
There’s Christmas of course; that keeps you going. And snowdrops and crocuses are sweet. Daffodils, of course. Tulips, yes.
But you really want to see the rose.
And then one magical day in June, it is here.
It is the start of a love-affair. This isn’t a quick fling. You have made a commitment. For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, til death do us part.
But for now I am in the honeymoon period. Did I mention that I am polygamous?
So here are my six new roses. Let us hope it won’t be (like Henry VIII) ‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died. Divorce, Beheaded, Survived’.
1. Rosa ‘Young Lycidas’
He was a bit slow to get going, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. The petals have the papery texture of ‘Royal Jubilee’. They are a fetching purple, fairly uniform at first.
Then as they get some sun, and age, they take on some more nuanced tones. There is fading at the centre, and deeper plum towards the outer petals. I like the depths. I always like a rose to have depth.
And then he did something unexpected. Something rather marvellous. This happened:
It’s just the one flower. How delightful. On closer inspection, each petal is split down the middle: white on one half, purple-pink on the other. I hope he has more tricks like this up his sleeve. I like the element of surprise.
He smells gorgeous too. He is described in my David Austin book as “pure tea, then tea and old rose, cedar wood”. There is definitely something rich and resinous there. I love him. He can stay.
2. Rosa ‘Boscobel’
He was straight off the starting blocks. How could you not be intrigued by a fat little egg like this?
And when the egg hatched, Boscobel did not disappoint. Here he is, still very new. Look at him, all dewy-eyed and glowing from within.
Then basking in the sun with me:
Today he smells of aniseed balls. He can most definitely stay.
3. Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’
This is an impressive one. She has the biggest buds in the garden.
She has an air of competence. She’s got this.
Some would be threatened by her size. Her vivid colour (brightest coral-pink to light magenta). Her confidence and competence. I like her. She can stay.
She smells vaguely of raspberry. She doesn’t need to try that hard, she knows she’s good.
4. Rosa ‘Jubilee Celebration’
Now this is a rose I ummed-and-ahhhed about. I thought it might be a bit fuddy-duddy. A bit Grandma. I’m always wary of pink roses that have any hint of yellow. They make me feel queasy. Something to do with fruit punch and Cinzano in my youth, which we don’t need to go into.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Behold:
It is a combination of petal shape, with those pointed tips, and the pine-cone formation.
It starts out quite peachy, but becomes more pink. The tips of the petals turn back, giving a ruffled rosette. It has a soft and creamy, silken texture. And a swirl at the centre. Oh, it is dreamy. Yes. That’s it. It is the most tranquil rose I know. I feel a sense of peace and wellbeing just looking on it. It is re-aligning my chakras.
We all need one of these. There is no question but this one is here to stay.
5. Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’
This was another one I wavered over. And then I saw her in the flesh and my mind was made up. You can see why. She is another one with soft, silky petal texture. She has an opulence that is unrivalled.
She mingles beautifully with all her partners. I am growing her with Erodium manescavii, Geranium psilostemon, Geranium versicolour and Phlox paniculata ‘Europa’. She looks fabulous with all of them.
6. Rosa ‘Princess Anne’
And finally, ‘Princess Anne’. This has the most intriguing pink. It starts out glowing pink, with maybe even a hint of peach at the centre.
The petals are beautifully curved and scalloped, with almost pale picotee edging. They take on a violet tone in the middle of the petal.
They are held in generous bouquets: each flower catches the light slightly differently.
They get even more purplish just before the petals drop. I love her. She too can stay.
I should say that for all these new roses, it is difficult to assess them on health, vigour and growth habit at this stage. Give me a couple of years, and I will get back to you.