Gardening: England's rose is my passionBy Linda Fort
June 08, 2012
Samuel Johnson said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
I don’t quite know what he would have made of last weekend.
I’m not specially patriotic – I am English but because I live in England I don’t have to mention it very often.
Disinclined to put out the bunting at these times of fervid patriotism, I’m afraid I haven’t potted up scarlet geraniums, white alyssum and blue lobelia to mimic the Union Flag in my flower beds either.
The borough and everyone else is welcome to do that this year, but it’s not my cup of English breakfast tea,
However, I do have a symbol of England in full flower right now which I would not be without.
It is a red rose – a single red rose like that of the house of Lancaster which came after the Wars of the Roses to be the symbol of England.
I didn’t plant it in a surging spirit of patriot pride – I don’t get those when I’m gardening.
In fact I am more likely to experience a surge of irritation or a dampening wave of depression thanks to slugs, cats or the weather.
For example, this morning I found that the rain – the very welcome blessed gentle rain – had weighed down a giant cosmos to such a degree that it had broken.
Closer examination revealed the stem had probably been damaged by a slug or something first.
Keeping calm, I tied it up with a stick with little hope of seeing it thrive and carried on.
However, the red rose I refer to is Rosa moyesii which I love with a passion and it never lets me down.
It has an irresistibly pretty flower which is followed by the most beautiful goblet shaped hips.
The hips more than make up for the fact that it only flowers once.
Told by a wise woman many years ago that it was best placed at the back of the border where it can rise up then gently arch over, I followed that good advice.
Now I have a perfectly lovely display to celebrate the 60th anniversary of accession of the Queen to the throne.
I didn’t plant the rose there for that reason, but never mind, there it is now.
It is nicely set off by a neighbouring dark red weigela taken as a cutting from my last garden and finally doing well now next door’s leylandii has finally been cut down – a reason to put out the bunting if ever there was one.
So with my lovely red rose, I can feel faintly patriotic as I look out on my cheerful little English garden.
Her Majesty has some jolly nice gardens too – and even though slugs are probably Nationalists, I expect they eat her bedding plants too.