Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Rose By Any Name...

I call this rose "Sweet Mystery", and the title suits it wonderfully. Beyond knowing that it is an antique and a true old garden rose, I have no idea what my splendid "once blooming" beauty is called - I suspect it may be a Great Maiden's Blush.

Whatever my mystery rose is, it has all the characteristics and habits of a vigorous old Alba (most ancient of roses except for the glorious Gallicas). The word Alba springs from a Proto-Indo-European root albh, meaning white. The deliciously fragrant white (or pale pink) Alba roses were plentiful in Britain long before the Romans arrived, and when the first of Caesar's legions arrived in Britain, they named the island Albion for the roses which were already there, blooming in clouds of perfume and wild abundance. The ancient Romans were rose lovers themselves - they imported masses of roses from Egypt, and wherever the legions alighted in their westward travels, they brought roses with them to grace the courtyards of their fortresses and camps.

It should be noted, that as passionate as I am about roses, I cannot claim to be a rose gardener. I live too far north for that, and for a variety of reasons (mostly the length of our winters and our summer humidity), modern roses do not do well in the garden behind the little blue house in the village. Nevertheless, for a few weeks in late June and early July, I permit myself to wander about in the garden like a pre-Raphaelite maiden (better make that pre-Raphaelite crone or hag) smelling the roses and dreaming. This rose is always my first stopping place.

4 comments:

Robin said...

Simply gorgeous. Your posts are such a delight.

Barbara Anne said...

Ah, I'm not a rose gardener either tho my grandfather was and to my delight two of his rose bushes now flower in my garden.

Perhaps some variety or varieties of heirloom roses will suit your climate since the more modern hybrids don't fare well behind the blue house?

I enjoy the lovely pictures you post and the word pictures you paint. Thank you!

liliannattel said...

I wasn't aware of that history. I love fragrant roses and am always disappointed when a beautiful rose has no scent. I've noticed that lighter colour roses have lighter scents and deeper colours more perfumed ones. Have you noticed that?

liliannattel said...

Oh--except when they have no smell at all!