13 June 2018
SO, IF IT IS SO GOOD out there, down in Vaucluse, shacked up at number 1 Rue de F-B, what's with coming all the way back to Blightey in early May, only to turn round again and go back to Sablet in the latter third of June?
You see, Mrs Melling is a rose woman. She knows her roses and is prepared to tend them with a mixture of brutality and love. It is she who has carefully added to the few oddball rose we found here when we took on the place, and now they are all well established and doing their stuff in droves. Most of them are old varieties of shrub roses, hardened individuals who can take the rough with the rough and look good on it. They have also been carefully selected for their scent. And the most prolific is a bit of a mystery as we were after a yellow trailer but the rose we acquired turned out white with a pink blush. Mrs Melling opines it is probably Paul's Himalayan Musk. No matter, it has become a firm favourite except when we have to try and prune the thing.
But what about black spot, aphid attack, rust etc? Well what about them? We care not a jot. The birds love the aphids and clear most of them up most of the time. Black spot is occasional and ignored. From time to time it is true we have said enough is enough already, to this rose or that, but usually after having cropped it back to zero, it shows up again and comes back with renewed vigour. Mrs Melling is also forever sticking bits of stem in that patch or this where in time another rose soon springs up if I don't accidentally chuck it out with the weeds: it is a long time since we took delivery of anything from a nurseryman.
2018 is the best year yet I think. Warm dry weather has allowed blooms to blossom freely. No rotting in the bud this year! Ad no dashing down by heavy rain (although there is still time). More than thirty different roses, closer to forty we think, hundreds of blooms and hardly a hybrid-tea in sight. Mrs Melling knows their names, origins, the lot, of course she does. Once more I am reminded that I am a simple pleasure loving dolt . . . It is a feast of colour and scent and at the time of writing this, it is at maximum revs. The garden is wonderful, the place to be! And its not just the roses actually, there are the geraniums, the cistus, the flowering shrubs, the gooseberries even – and the set of the apple crop . . . in fact it is the space, intimate, airy, densely green and private, full of birds.
But right now? Well we are getting the itch. The route is sorted, the hotels booked, the packing is in the offing, or soon will be. Hey ho for the open road and a return to Sablet, lightweight apparel and The Tour on Telly!
One or two of our roses will repeat and one or two might do so even after our third return, the autumn trip. They are good friends . . . if somewhat prickly at times . . .