Fall is definitely in the air but as long as the weather stays mild, the roses will keep on blooming. I cleaned up the garden this weekend, pulling out all the bedraggled annuals and planted the rest of my spring bulbs. I saw some roses are still blooming but they are smaller than the spring blooms and the color is more intense. I saw this beautiful rose blooming next to my back door. It’s named Dr. Jane Goodall, to honor the legendary ethologist and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall.
Here is a lovely poem written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) that carries my sentiment for the season.
Constance Spry, introduced in 1961, is one of the first English Roses hybridized by David Austin and its success contributed to the founding of the English Roses. David Austin Roses is a flower arranger’s dream. They can be used to make wonderful floral arrangements either on their own or with other plant materials. With its voluptuous blossoms and dainty habit, you can duplicate the beauty and charm of an Old Dutch floral painting.
Photo Credit – David Austin Roses
Constance Spry can grow to a height of 6-12 ft. with a width of 6-8 ft. or 10 to 18 ft. as a climber. Bloom size is 3” with a petal count of 80+. It has a lovely pink color and very fragrant. The only drawback is it only flowers once in the spring but it blooms profusely.
Who is Constance Spry?
Constance Spry is the mother of modern floral design. She would have loved to use David Austin Roses for her floral arrangements. After World War 1, she changed the formal, rigid composition of floral design with unconventional pastoral compositions; flowers arranged asymmetrically with assorted shapes of foliage in various types of containers. She used all kinds of wildflowers, grasses, pods or practically anything the Victorian ladies shunned. Her style was full of drama and a refreshing reprieve from the more stiff floral design of her contemporaries.
Photo Credit – Pinterest
Connie, as she was known to her friends, was born in Derby, England, in 1886 and raised in Ireland. She found refuge from her domineering mother in the gardens of her childhood, where she began to take note of what would become her favorites: old garden roses, lilac, mock orange, laurel, buddleia, and evening primrose, as well as grasses, weeds, and other typically overlooked plants and materials.
Though flowers and gardening would be her lifelong passions, under her father’s direction she began her early professional life as an educator and social reformer. Traveling by horse-drawn wagon through the Irish countryside, she became a proponent of healthy living, educating housewives on the benefits of fresh air and nutritious food as part of a “War on Consumption” campaign. After a disappointing marriage to a coal mine manager, she took her only son back to England to begin life anew. It was there she met and fell in love with Shav Spry, a colonial civil servant who would be her lifelong companion.
It wasn’t until the age of 41, that Spry’s amateur talents as a floral designer were noticed by an influential lunch companion, leading her to Norman Wilkinson, a theater designer whose encouragement would launch her meteoric design career. With a commission to do flowers for cinemas and a perfume shop, Spry took her unorthodox visions of gathered materials and artful references out of the homes of friends and into the public eye, where she was praised for displays that in an incredibly modern twist included leaves, berries, seed pods, wild clematis, and golden hops mixed with exotic orchids.
Suddenly this middle-aged woman found herself thrust into the social scene, befriending legendary decorator and fellow entrepreneur Syrie Maugham and an exuberant crowd of theatrical personalities and social luminaries. She became the florist of choice to London high society organizing the flowers for royal weddings. She designed the flowers for the Queen’s wedding and Coronation. Her books on flower arranging made her a household name.
Besides being an influential floral artist, Constance Spry is the founder of the Cordon Bleu cooking school and an author of a bestselling cookbook bearing her name.
It’s been raining on and off everyday for too long. The ground is so soaked already. My roses are drowning.
This is the view in front of my townhouse everyday.
This is what you can see through the window in back.
Remember the nursery rhyme:
Rain. Rain. Go Away.
Come again another day.
Little children want to play.
I would like St. Swithun to send the rain to California. They need it there. We have enough rain here already.
Have you heard about St. Swithun? Who is he? What’s he got to do with rain?
St. Swithun is regarded as one of the saints to whom one should pray in the event of drought.
I remember years ago while I was in New York and it rained on July 15 and it kept on raining everyday till late August. We were having an Ice Cream Social at the end of August and I mentionedit to one of our guests who lived across the street. She must be well-read because she recited the poem right away. Not many people know about St. Swithun. She knew the legend about St. Swithun and the 40 days of rain. It says if it rains on St. Swithun’s day which is July 15, it will rain for 40 days.
We might be heading that way. I cannot remember the weather on July 15. Maybe it was raining. It has been raining everyday for quite sometime now. Where I live in Johns Island, it is like England’s weather. The sun will come up and then dark clouds move in all day long. The rain is so localized. It could be raining in front of my house but not in the back. It could be pouring on the lake but dry on the street. Weird.
Here is the English weather lore proverb about St. Swithun:
St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mare
A Buckinghamshire variation has
If on St Swithun’s day it really pours
You’re better off to stay indoors.
St. Swithun was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester from his consecration in Oct. 853 until his death on July 2, 862 and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. On his deathbed St. Swithun begged that he should be buried outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it. However, it was decided later to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and one theory traces the origin of the legend to a heavy shower by which, on the day of the move, the saint marked his displeasure towards those who were removing his remains.
According to Durham chroniclers, the legend was derived from the tremendous downpour of rain that occurred on St. Swithun’s Day, July 15, 1315.
This is a rose hybridized by David Austin named in honor of St. Swithun.
Syns: R. banksiana, Banksian rose, Banks’ Rose, Lady Banks’
Cultivated since 1796
Rosa banksiae is one of the best shrubs for a wall and in a few years will reach the top of most houses. It produces an abundance of pretty small roses with the sweetest fragrance you can imagine. The flowers are borne on last year’s wood and so it is well-advised not to prune in the spring. Only dead or useless branches have to be trimmed. The date of introduction is not known but the double white form was first described in the Botanical Magazine for 1818 as Lady Banks’ Rose and one of the sweetest of roses. It has also been known as a native of China and had been introduced in 1807 by William Kerr. The double yellow was introduced in 1824.
Definitely not for the small property, this vigorous species rose offers a spectacular spring show in warm-climate gardens that can accommodate its rampant growth habit. There are four different forms of R. banksiae, varying by flower color and flower form.
· R. banksiae normalis is considered to be the “wild” form, with single white flowers.
· R. banksiae banksiae (also known as ‘Banksiae Alba’, R. banksiae alba, R.banksiae alba-plena, White Banksia, or White Lady Banks’ Rose) offers exceptionally fragrant, double white flowers.
· R. banksiae lutea (R. banksiae lutea-plena, Yellow Lady Banks’ Rose) is the most well-known form of Rosa banksiae in cultivation with small, fully double, bright yellow flowers that come in clusters. They are only slightly fragrant.
· R. Banksiae lutescenshas single light yellow blooms.
All four have small, oval buds that open to clustered, 1-inch wide, rosette-form flowers, usually blooming in early or midspring to late spring. Slender, thornless canes carry semi-evergreen to evergreen, shiny, dark green leaves with narrow leaflets. They are rarely bothered by diseases.
All four forms of this specie rose have a vigorous, rambling habit and can grow up to 30 ft, so they’re usually used as 20 to 30-foot climbers. They need a sturdy support, such as a well-built pergola or arbor; they also like to scramble into trees. It is a great rose for zone 8 to 10.
I saw Rosa banksiae in Charleston, SC on my first visit there in 1989. We went on a House and Garden Tour and at one of the gardens we visited, ‘Yellow Lady Banks’ was growing almost to the roof of the house against the wall. We wandered along some tiny street and I saw ‘Yellow Lady Banks’ rose by the gate and I took the above photo. Fast forward to 2011 – when I joined the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society, I discovered the owner of that rose is one of our members.
Tip of the Day – Learn to be cheerful even if you don’t feel like it.
This month as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is interesting to note that the rose is not only a symbol of love but a symbol of discretion. Legend has it that Cupid gave a red rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to bribe him to secrecy over the dalliance of Venus and so the red rose become the symbol of discretion, love, passion and romance. Roses were henceforth painted on the ceilings of banquet halls to remind all gathered there that whatever was said there, should not be repeated which became the expression sub rosa (under the rose).
Another legend says that while Aphrodite was running to the dying Adonis, she was scratched by a rose bush and her blood falling on the roses turn it red. Other account says that Adonis turned his blood into red roses.
Whatever legend strikes your fancy, there is nothing in our garden at this time of the year but the florist and even the supermarket stores are selling roses grown in South America so there is no excuse not to give red roses for Valentine’s Day.
And how did Valentine’s Day get started?
A certain Bishop Valentine started it to replace the Roman festival of Lupercalia. There were several Bishops of Valentine but nobody is really certain as to who is the real Bishop Valentine. But whoever he is, the tradition continues and we celebrate this day exchanging gifts and greetings between our loved ones, friends, family but mostly lovers.
During the Victorian era, valentine cards were mostly decorated with old-fashioned roses. Even today, valentines are still associated with roses. For Valentine’s Day, red roses are arbitrarily the most popular flower.
There are several red roses in the market nowadays but I can recommend some tried and true varieties that grow very well in the garden. Plant some of them and give your Valentine red roses again in June.
Here are my favorites:
Firefighter – dark red rose
Ingrid Bergman – dark red rose
Lasting Love – dark red rose
Let Freedom Ring – medium red rose
Mister Lincoln – dark red rose
Olympiad – medium red rose
Veterans’ Honor – dark red rose
For the romantic at heart, here is a lovely poem by Robert Burns (1759-1796).
There isn’t an American who is not affected by that tragedy at the New York Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Everyone who died in that tragedy left someone behind who loved them. Rose is a flower of love. To honor and pay tribute to all the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Sue Casey of Portland, Oregon formed an organization called Remember Me” Rose Gardens to create three rose gardens on or near the sites of the terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and at a field in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County in Pennsylvania.
The intent of “Remember Me” Rose Garden” is to affirm love and life year after year with the blooming of each rose bush. It is a national opportunity for us to remember the fallen and celebrate life, liberty and freedom through roses.
“Firefighter” – In September, 2003, “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced “Firefighter” the first of the eleven roses to be named. “Firefighter” is a red hybrid tea rose to honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
“Soaring Spirits” – In September, 2004 “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced “Soaring Spirits”, the second rose to be named. “Soaring Spirits” is a new cream pink and yellow striped climbing rose to honor the more than 2,000 people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 as they worked in the World Trade Center Towers.
“We Salute You” In September, 2005 “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced “We Salute You”, the third to be named. “We Salute You” is an orange/pink hybrid tea to honor the 125 service members, employees, and contract workers who died in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
“Forty Heroes” On April 27, 2006 “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced in New York City, “Forty Heroes”, a beautiful golden yellow floribunda named for the crew and passengers of United Flight 93. Courageously they fought back forcing hijackers to crash the plane in rural Pennsylvania instead of the intended target in Washington, D.C., changing the course of history.
“The Finest” is a beautiful white hybrid tea rose that honors the 23 NYPD Officers lost in the line of duty on September 11, 2001. These 23 NYPD Officers, in their dedication to protect the lives of fellow citizens, gave the ultimate sacrifice-their lives. “The Finest” honors the NYPD.
“Patriot Dream” honors the 64 people who were the crew and passengers on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. A family member of the Flight 77 crew suggested the name for this beautiful salmon colored rose. “Patriot Dream” is a shrub rose with a light fruity fragrance. “Patriot Dream” will be planted at the three Washington, D.C. schools who had students and teachers aboard Flight 77.
“Survivor’s Rose” The name “Survivor” was suggested by a group of Survivors’ who worked in the World Trade Center. Lead by JoAnn Pedersen, the group said there could be no other name for the dark pink rose. The survivors who made it out of the World Trade Center helped rescue others, aiding in their escape down the stairwells before the Towers collapsed. At the Pentagon, survivors struggled to reach safety after Flight 77 crashed into the building. Ordinary people became heroes to one another.
“Wings of Courage”, a beautiful butter yellow rose with a halo of white petals. It is mildly scented and can have up to thirty blooms at one time. “Wings of Courage” is named in honor of the crew and passengers of American Airlines Flight 11 which struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.
Today is National Red Rose Day. A red rose conjures of romantic love, passion, respect and courage. In celebration of the National Red Rose Day, I’m listing the red roses in my garden. I have 21 red roses, 17 varieties.