My Favourite Window

December 2, 2010

Bobbie James

"You forgot to mention Bobbie James," chides Lady Mondegreen.
"I haven't seen Bobbie James," I reply in defence, but go out to look for this rose in bloom. No wonder I hadn't noted it yesterday. This rambler does not tumble but romps instead into high places to show its flowers. And the highest place available to our plant is the top of Nick's Pittosporum hedge behind our garage. This explains the lack of illustration today - I just cannot get close to the flowers. The flowers: those beautifully restrained semi-double, white saucers with their little boss of gold stamens flowering in multi-flora clusters. Sir Robert James' original plant grows massively against the front wall of his family home, St Nicholas House in Richmond, Yorkshire (England), but was covered with mildew, when I last saw it. I think Bobbie James' eponymous rose prefers the Antipodean climate as this Ashley specimen is always robust.
Sir Robert was a renowned plant collector and during his lifetime gathered plants in New Zealand, some of which were still growing at St Nicholas fifteen years ago. My favourite discovery was the stand of whipcord hebes grown above head height and flowering prolifically, their dainty blue flowers an unfamiliar sight in New Zealand gardens. About this time his widow, Lady Serena, asked me if I might be able to source some Mt Cook Lily seed, as Bobbie's original plants had died out, but being a fickle young traveller I never did get around to replenishing her stock.
But back to the rose! Seeing it's adventurous spirit, I feel inspired to take some cuttings and throw a few more around the Secret Garden: mingle it perhaps with the earlier flowering Cherokee rose up the gum trees or through the big pine hedge.

Rosa 'Bobbie James'
Cherokee Rose  Rosa laevigata
Whipcord hebe  Hebe cupressoides
Mt Cook lily  Ranunculus lyalli

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