The Whole Heady Mixture

This week has been spring-bank, the half-term holidays. This is the week the roses are glorious.

English rose ‘Boscobel’ (apricot-pink)

It has an extra sweetness this year. I cannot visit my favourite rose garden at Sissinghurst, so I am making the most of my own garden.

I view it from every angle, from every window, upstairs and down. Brushing my teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil, I find myself drifting over to the open window just to take it all in.

I planted these roses four winters ago, extending the bed the year after. The roses have matured and stretched out, making great hummocks of foliage and flower.

Diagonally from top left: English rose ‘Roald Dahl’, Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’, English rose ‘Lady of Megginch’, Gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’, English rose ‘Boscobel’. Cornflowers and salvia interspersed.

Lockdown has brought an intimacy with my immediate surroundings like I have never known. As a family we have never spent more time together. We have never taken so many walks close to home. . I have always known this garden intimately, but last summer I was starting a new job, and the summer whizzed by without me spending as much time as usual drifting amongst the flowers.

Intersectional peony ‘Cora Louise’

That has been remedied this year. Never have I dipped in and out of the flowerbeds so much.

Clockwise from top left: Rugosa rose ‘Hansa’, English rose ‘Roald Dahl’, English rose ‘Lady of Megginch’, Gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’, Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’ (middle).

Flowerbed-hopping is a sport. There are certain roses I have planted in the middle of the bed, like the Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’.

Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’

This is a rose which requires inhaling several times a day.

Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’, tempting me from the centre of the bed.

Which means contortions and acrobatics to get myself from the edge of the bed to the middle, taking in obstacles of prickly rose, delicate penstemon, and fixed obelisk. There is a reason I practise yoga.

Left to right: Rugosa rose ‘Hansa’, Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor, English rose ‘Roald Dahl’

Once there, in the middle of the bed, I appreciate other delights. Like the herbaceous peony, ‘Nellie Shaylor’.

Clockwise from left: English rose ‘Roald Dahl’, Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’, Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor’

I am a sucker for bicoloured peonies. You might have seen my favourite, ‘White Cap’, on my instagram feed this week. ‘Nellie Shaylor’ is a very close second. The white and pink flecked pet

It is confectionary in flower form. The combination of ‘Nellie Shaylor’ peony and Roald Dahl’ rose reminds me of a rhubarb-and-custard boiled sweet. It makes my mouth water.

Peony ‘Nellie Shaylor’ with English rose ‘Roald Dahl’.

I feel like everything has an extra sweetness this year.

It is like the roses have realised, aThe gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’ found itself very close to being rooted out last year. Its blooms are lovely, but last year they crisped and browned within a couple of weeks. This year, it has made sure that its soft velvet blooms are canoodling delightfully. As they warm in the sun, they open their petals and release their perfume.

Gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’

Next to ‘Sissinghurst Castle’ is the English rose, ‘Boscobel’. I make many visits to this rose through the day. I press my face into the soft bloom and inhale the scent of sweet dessert wine.

English rose ‘Boscobel’

Life is precious, and we can’t take anything for granted.

Clockwise from top left: English rose ‘Roald Dahl’, English rose ‘Lady of Megginch’, Gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’, Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’.

I am consciously sitting outside to eat breakfast in the sun. I am gathering the family together so that we can all drink our morning coffee together (we have christened our seating area ‘Cafe Near-o‘). We are spending more time playing the with the dogs, lazing on the sunloungers, even filling up the paddling pool.

Stevie, Ziggy and Ruby.

All outside in the sun, drinking in the sweetness.

English rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’; English rose ‘Young Lycidas’ to the right.

The roses agree. Life is short and must be enjoyed.

Clockwise from top left: English rose ‘Roald Dahl’, English rose ‘Lady of Megginch’, Gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’

They are putting their all into flowering, soaking up the sun, pumping out their heady perfume.

I hope you are able to soak up the sweetness this week.

Treat yourself to breakfast outside, sniffing a rose, listening to birdsong, closing your eyes and feeling the sun on your face, slurping on an ice lolly or on the ripest of fruit…

Whatever you choose, I hope that you consciously enjoy it; this moment is here for your pleasure.

The whole heady mixture.

If you would like to find out more about the rose varieties mentioned in this post, you can search for their name in the ‘search’ window below. I am always adding to my collection of posts where I review specific varieties.

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy says:

    Your dedicated rose bed is a wonderful thing, Ali, and here my shrub border is currently dominated by roses so perhaps I could now call this a rose bed too…! It looks as if it will be a glorious year for them and, as you say, for some there are many benefits of being in lockdown, and not just roses

    1. It does seem to be a good year for roses, Cathy. My ‘Lady Em’ is already sending out new flower buds. She doesn’t so much have a second flush as a continuous succession.

      1. Cathy says:

        And for fragrance too – although wind a abit of rain in the last few days have taken off quite a few petals. By the way, I have had a reply from DA which I will forward to you soonish

  2. Your garden is just lovely! What a tonic.

  3. Ann Mackay says:

    Your garden must smell heavenly! It looks wonderful too. 🙂 Being able to spend time enjoying the garden is a silver lining to the Covid cloud.

    1. It does smell lovely sitting next to the roses. The paving seems to have intensified the scent, almost like it reflects off it!

  4. Emma Cownie says:

    Your roses are just gorgeous!

  5. Rupali says:

    Beautiful garden.

  6. Thomas Corbin says:

    Absolutely stunning! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Cathy says:

    A lovely post Ali. Your rose bed really is putting on a fantastic show this year. The weather has been perfect for them this spring. Enjoy your weekend in the garden! 😃

    1. They do seem to have flourished in record levels of sun and no rain.

  8. Peg says:

    Your roses are so beautiful. Thank you for a brief respite from the worries of the world.

  9. Kellie says:

    Such a lovely post, I felt I was there too, Inhaling the scents as you described. I am also grateful for some things that have changed with lockdown, especially more family time and getting to know my own neighbourhood better 👌

    1. That is lovely to hear, Kellie. Thank you. Xxx

  10. More than ever, I’m so happy to have a garden escape!

    1. Yes. Public parks and gardens are so important for those who don’t.

  11. Jo Shafer says:

    What bliss in your garden, Ali! Thank you for the “tour of roses.” Mine here in Washington state are just coming into their own, although the Old Roses began blooming in late May. Now that it’s June already, I’ll write about them all this week. Blessings to you all!

    1. Thank you Jo, and to you. Xxx

  12. Diane Guidice says:

    Thank you so much for enhancing our lives. Your garden is balm to the soul even in photos.

    1. Thank you Diane for your kindness. Xxxx

  13. Such gorgeous, gorgeous roses. I love Cafe Near-O, and that picture of the dogs lazing about and that cake are wonderful. Your blog makes me happy, Ali.

    1. It has been a joy of lockdown to go to Cafe Near-o and spend time together.

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