My Favourite Window

December 1, 2010

Of Cabbages and Roses

I have been overwhelmed with gifts these last few weeks, amongst them the most beautiful fat cabbage. This was a neighbourly gift from Nick-next-door and I am eagerly making coleslaw from it.  But while I haven't been looking, the roses have been coming into full bloom.  This little village of Ashley Bank sits on heavy silt deposits over old river shingles. The overlying loam is likewise heavy, although where the Secret Garden dips into an ancient river terrace, sandy soil laced with sea-shells is only a spade-depth away.  Gardeners may curse the loam, sodden in winter and baked hard in summer, but roses thrive in these soils.  In years like this one, blessed with La Nina weather conditions, they spill over fences ancient and modern, in barely governed display.
One day I will have a good camera to express detail, colour and depth of field well. In the meantime I can at least show you this serendipitous  association of a lusty hybrid tea rose (which may be Royal Dane) growing up through indigenous kanuka.  The fine needle-like foliage of the kanuka offsets the robust blooms and glossy rose leaves.
Other roses flowering around the garden are Sombreuil, Albertine, Cecile Brunner, Blanc double de Coubert and an old climber heavily laden with white pompoms. This last, I rescued from the old station-master's house site during a council drain clearing, but it can also be seen spilling out of a big macrocarpa hedge further along the road. I realised when Nick was admiring the roses flowering along our common boundary, that here is another one of my long-standing dreams come true - old-fashioned roses tumbling all over the place.  A little sadness surfaces, that Elwin didn't quite see the flowering of the hybrid tea cuttings I struck a year and a half ago along the front of our veranda. This is the rose that I call Dad's Rose, and which could be Royal Dane; Elwin was full of awe that I could poke some sticks in the ground and have them grow into bushes before his eyes. He had been watching the first plumping buds with interest and now they are revealing their colour and scent.

Rosa spp
Kanuka, tea tree  Kunzea ericoides

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