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.
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).