It is Rose time of year, I have just been away for a few days and everywhere I go, there are bags of thorny promise for sale. Tables on footpaths, boxes full of entangled stems in nurseries, even the most unlikely stores will have a few buckets of them to tempt me.
In February, when rain was a far distant memory and the hot, dusty winds had been blowing for eternity, I made a solemn promise to myself to not to buy any more roses. When their leaves withered and fell and their stems turned black, I thought absolutely no more. When I had carted mulch for them, hand watered and fed them, grown shade hedges for them and still they suffered, I decided, this cannot continue. Like the citrus orchard before you, I must acknowledge that you are not suited to Moble anymore and therefore, I shall not inflict these conditions on any more Roses.
Rose catalogues were one of the first big temptations for me in what became my gardening addiction. I still love a good glossy rose catalogue with their colourful pictures, lurid names and totally beguiling descriptions. Whilst I have been known to trawl for roses on the internet, I generally find it a disappointing experience. By the time our version of the NBN 0.0 has downloaded the photograph, I have scanned ahead to another and I then manage to freeze everything with the classic double download manoeuvre. Flipping backwards and forwards is also cumbersome, whereas I can turn over the edges of the rose catalogue to mark my favourites.
There is welcome ritual for me when choosing new roses out of a catalogue: usually done with a morning coffee or after lunch sitting in the sun with an orange, I carefully note down the number I have space for in that given year, the type I am looking for and then I begin my lists. These can be poured over at any spare moment, even compared between other catalogues, inter-loguing, if you like. There will be sub-titles for different purposes such as climbing, picking, scrambling over the ugly shed and obviously merit will be given for fragrance (a rose without scent is just a thorn in the nose, remember) colour and form. I will stride around the garden, allotting spaces, counting off where groups could fill in; there is always a bargain to be had if you buy ten or more of the same, alas never for just the three that I need.
Finally, filled with anticipation and great expectation, the order will be sent, and the new holes prepared. These will be dug over regularly with rotted manure and all manner of hocus pocus, so when the Roses arrive, they can be soaked overnight in a bucket of water and planted out the next day. The Mailman may be called upon to unpack them in town and soak them in rainwater for me, until they make the mail run. They have always been most obliging and old KJ took a great interest in the roses for many years, often asking if they were his roses. As you can see, meticulous planning is involved with the rose catalogue process. The only slight snag will be the extra Free Rose the nursery will kindly include, invariably in a colour that clashes with your entire order and you never know quite where to put it. Unless it is a David Austin, as all of them are beautiful.
This dear reader is in stark contrast to the rose-in-a-bag method of buying which can operate parallel to the catalogue method. I was first exposed to the bagged rose on a winter trip through NSW not long after we were married. In a revelation to rival Paul on the road to Damascus, I realised how wonderful supermarkets were south of the border. Literally, they seemed a one stop shop, for I could not only buy the ingredients for dinner, I could grab a few bottles of plonk in-store and a couple of rose bushes in bags on my way out, flowers for the table you see. So ideal on so many levels.
For the uninitiated, the method for buying a rose in a bag is something like this: with hands full of the shopping you actually have on your list, you rush past a table full of entangled rose bushes. Despite running late and trying, as ever, to be on-task, you are at once both dazzled and entranced by the labels, and instinctively scan for a familiar name. I mean, at $8.95 its only just more than a cup of coffee.
Then the game begins… Oh, Tiffany, one of the children’s ponies and such a pretty pink (a word of caution here dear reader, colours may be misleading on these glossy labels and soft apricot may turn out to be two tone tangerine, so do read the description)… Duet, am sure Auntie Peggy grew that beside the tennis court? I always loved it… And Dearest, now that was Gramps’ favourite, I can’t leave that behind… Spek’s Yellow! Well Pop had an old horse called Spec and another squeeze of lemon in the garden cannot go astray…
By now, you have put down all your shopping, headed back to find a trolley, removed your jumper and gloves so you can really reach in amongst it all and in less time than it takes to snag a cashmere scarf you have such a load of roses that all else is abandoned as you cannot carry it. Some days later, after they have pierced and snagged everyone and everything in the car on the trip home, you will once again be found striding around the garden, trying to work out where you will insert all these treasures amongst your carefully laid plans.
Anyway, it works for me and am sure it will work for you too, I am off now to take some cuttings… of roses of course.
Happy rose season,
The Moble Gardener.