Tickled Pink

The tickling here isn’t the light stroking of the skin – it’s the figurative sense of the word that means ‘to give pleasure or gratify’. The tickling pink concept is of enjoyment great enough to make the recipient glow with pleasure


I don’t think of myself as a particularly girly girl, and throughout my life I have almost avoided pink.

However, when I look around my rose garden, I see pink everywhere, and yes, I am tickled pink.

Foreground: English rose ‘England’s Rose’

There are so many delicious pinks!

Clockwise from left: Knautia ‘Melton Pastels’, Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’, Rose ‘Princess Anne’

I tend to favour the rich pinks,

Peony ‘Barbara’ with Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’

but every now and again, these are softened by a really gentle, paler pink.

Gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’ with English rose ‘Boscobel’ behind.

One of the loveliest roses in the garden is ‘Boscobel’.

English rose ‘Boscobel’

Each bloom is perfectly formed. It is especially lovely when it catches the light. The inside of the petals are a rich pink, and the edges are diaphanous and airy.

English rose ‘Boscobel’

This is a strong rose. Its blooms are always well supported by the stem. Rain or shine, its flowers survive. They don’t ball, or get rain splodges, or get tossed around by wind. I think this would be a good choice in a garden that is exposed to the elements.

English rose ‘Boscobel’

Another flower that is the epitomy of pink, is the peony ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’. Monsieur has been treated very badly by the weather this year, and can barely hold his own weight, but is still quite beautiful. I think it is the softness of this peony that I love. The petals are each very slim, and softly curved inwards, giving the flower a grace and a delicacy.

Peony ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’

For delicacy and bounciness combined, I don’t think you can beat sweet Williams. Here they are with the morning dew.

Dianthus (sweet William) ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’

They remind me of sherbet when they sparkle with dew.

Dianthus (sweet William) ‘Auricula-eyed Mixed’

I love the combination of dianthus and rose at the front of the border.

I like to look at the rose garden from above, from the bedroom windows. It gives me an overview of how the planting is all hanging together.

There is one plant that is just nagging at me, as not quite fitting in. Do you see it?

In my post from a few weeks ago, Mouth-watering, one plant caught many people’s attention. It was Knautia ‘Melton Pastels’. However, this is exactly the plant that is niggling at me.

Knautia ‘Melton Pastels’

The bees love it…

Knautia ‘Melton Pastels’

But I am finding it too airy. The rest of the plants have an upwards motion, and are quite substantial. To my eyes, the knautia is too wafty, and its blooms too ephemeral.

It is coming out!

Clockwise from left: Knautia ‘Melton Pastels’, Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’, Rose ‘Princess Anne’

To be a gardener, is to be ruthless. And fickle. And to be comfortable with changing your mind.

Do you see the three empty pots in front of the resplendent rose ‘Marjorie Fair’?

Rose ‘Marjorie Fair’

Those three pots, up until last week, contained my absolute favourite rose, ‘Munstead Wood’. If you need reminding of this rose’s perfection, then you can find it again in this post, Portrait of a Rose.

Whilst you can grow a rose in a large pot, I was not growing it well. I am a bit lax when it comes to watering. Every couple of weeks, on looking at the rose with dried out flower-buds, I would give it a couple of watering-cans full of water.

Clockwise from top left: Rose ‘Hansa’, Digitalis ‘Pam’s Choice’, Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’ with Geranium ‘Orion’ and Aquilegia ‘Hensol’s Harebell’.

But such a flood-or-famine situation is not fair on a rose, and it was showing. I felt guilty every time I looked at them. I decided to put them out of their misery. I have taken cuttings, and my mum has ‘Munstead Wood’ in her garden, so all is not lost.

Gardening teaches us that there is a time to let go, and this was it.

There are so many plants in the world to enjoy. So many roses to sink your nose into.

And if you get bored of roses, there are always peonies.

Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor’

Peonies are more fleeting than roses. I must make the most of them whilst they are here.

Peony ‘Barbara’

Though roses draw me back to them. I am most definitely tickled pink.

Rose ‘Lady of Megginch’ with ‘Sissinghurst Castle’ and ‘Boscobel’ behind.

The Mindful Gardener aims to share the love in the garden. Pink love, rainbow love, rose love, peony love. If you would like to receive an email update when a new post is published, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of the page. Feel free to share this post on social media using the buttons below.

33 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Ali..that Boscobel is a beauty…. 👌💕

    1. I do think it is one of the best pinks.

  2. Ann Mackay says:

    What a delightful array of pinks! And I really know what you mean about there being so many plants in the world to enjoy – and try to grow/find a bit of space for!

    1. Yes. That is a comforting thought when one plant passes!

  3. Like yourself, I’m not much of a girly-girl but I love pink in the garden. I’m also with Monty Don in that you can never have too many roses, might have to add Boscobel to my wishlist. 😊

  4. Yes, the Boscobel is liely my favourite here..I wonder if it’s hardy enough for my part of Canada? A close second, though, is ‘Nellie Shaylor’ – is it fragrant?

    1. I’m not sure about hardiness. Our winters are typically only down to -5 celcius, though last year dropped to -15 and the roses were all fine.

    2. Sorry – I forgot to reply to your question about Nellie Shaylor. It has that distinctive peony smell, which is kind of peppery and green. It is not one of the ones that goes unpleasant.

  5. Heyjude says:

    ‘Boscobel’ sounds perfect for my garden! Now where to put it? Like you say, sometimes you have to be ruthless in a garden. I have made mistakes with planting here – too many plants too close together – and have been pulling some out recently. In the autumn I plan to remove everything from one bed and give it a good clean up, then replant with more space around those I keep plus put loads of bulbs in for spring interest. Looking at your header photo I am very tempted to come and sit on that Lutyens bench I see – what a lovely view! Your borders are gorgeous Ali 🙂

    1. Thank you Jude! That sounds like a good plan with your border. I am a too-close planter too. I really struggle to imagine everything having doubled or tripled in a couple of years. There are worse problems to have, though!

  6. CCBethune says:

    Beautiful roses! 😊

    1. Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed them.

  7. bcparkison says:

    Could you not have planted them in the ground instead of just taking cuttings. Surely you didn’t dump them. But then…you beds are so full, beautifully full, maybe there wasn’t any room to plant them.

    1. They had been stressed and unhealthy for a while, so I felt that cuttings would have the better chance, Beverly. You’re right also – I don’t have any room to plant Munstead Wood out, but maybe by the times the cuttings are big enough for this, I might have worked out a plan!

    1. She is, isn’t she? I love the bicoloured peonies. ‘White Cap’ is my other favourite.

      1. I will look for both….no,no, no more plants! It’s a sickness.

      2. Oh, but what a sweet sickness it is!

      3. Tell that to Mr. Flower!

  8. Jo Shafer says:

    Exactly what a garden should look like, in my not-so-humble opinion. Mine used to be like yours when I was younger and healthier, but now rather an old lady’s garden with overgrown perennials and long think blades of grass sneaking up through them. From my courtyard, however, the vista is lovely, much like yours — until I put on my glasses. Truth will out, won’t it?

    By the way, I like to place empty planters/pots in strategic spots in the flower beds as accents. I saw that done in one of the private gardens on tour several years ago and liked the effect. You could consider doing something like that with your blue glazed urns.

    1. There is a plan for the pots! We have some special mulberries on order, which have been bred for pot-growing. Stephen is going to be nurturing them, and will hopefully be better at watering than I am!

  9. Believe it or not, my in-laws live in a city called Boscobel, Wisconsin. Now I know it’s named after a rose–maybe?

    Also, that picture where the beautiful gallica rose is perfectly in focus really caught my eye. There’s something uniquely exquisite about one thing, one lovely thing, in the forefront and the rest (though perhaps beautiful in their own right) fading away. It’s like falling in love.

    1. It is named after the park of Boscobel where Charles I hid in the hollowed-out trunk of an oak tree to escape the roundhead soldiers who wanted to execute him! David Austin, the breeder of these English roses often names them after historical figures or events, or literary characters or books. I always enjoy finding out more about them!
      Your observation about the gallica rose against the paler pink roses of ‘Boscobel’ is so insightful and true. It is good to stand out from the crowd and show your unique qualities!

  10. Emma Cownie says:

    Personally, I have avoided pink most of my life. If I have had pink clothes (like a cardigan) they have been hot pink. Red is more my colour, these days. Pink flowers are another matter. All shades of pinks are appreciated.

    1. I’m definitely a hot pink and red kind of a person too. They make me feel warm and alive. But as you say, a rose suits all sorts of pinks.

  11. I LOVE these pinks. They are amazing. And I loved this line from your post: “To be a gardener, is to be ruthless. And fickle. And to be comfortable with changing your mind.”

    1. Ah, thank you Shelly! I love it when I line appeals to a particular reader! It makes writing these posts a joy.

  12. Your roses are looking stellar this year Ali! How I would love to walk among them and sink my nose into them. I bet it smells heavenly at your house.
    I just purchased a ‘Princess Anne’ rose about 10 days ago, but an emergency surgery has kept me from getting it into the ground. I hope it hangs in there while I recuperate and will one day look as beautiful as yours.

    1. Oh no! Sorry to hear that Cindy. I hope you make a good recovery and take care of yourself. I’m sure ‘Princess Anne’ will be fine in a pot a little longer. xxx

  13. Cathy says:

    You must be in a state of perpetual pinkness, Ali! 😉 We don’t have an upstairs viewing point (not a bungalow, just where the windows are) which is such a useful feature – shame about the knautia, but I see what you mean. Boscobel is one of my newest roses so only has a few blooms yet – I did think the deep centres seemed to collect rain though so from what you say this may just be these earliest blooms

    1. I think in its second year (which mine is) you have so many flowers that the stems just lean enough to let the rain tip out! It has been tested this summer, and has coped with rain, wind and general weirdness!

      1. Cathy says:

        That’s interesting to read, Ali, and even now the newer blooms seems to be shallower and less of a rain hazard

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