13 June 2018

roses, that's why

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?

I have to admit this year I was wondering that myself. But as it happens, it was also this spring that the reason for our return became even more apparent. Bullsmead Court is not an estate that takes too kindly to being left to fend for itself. Over the years we have lived here we have done our best to tame the wilderness that some call a garden. We have not altogether succeeded in this respect; more dedicated types we know (and in one or two cases, love) must have wrung their hands at the sight of our unkempt borders and defeated vegetable patch, sucked their teeth at the tramp tramp tramp of the legions of ground elder that swamp even our most valiant attempts to be in charge, shaken their heads at the disgracefully moss impregnated 'lawn' which has to be tamed anew each time we return to the homestead . . . (I still recall two years ago being hospitalised after my fight with the greensward, with severe thorassic  cramps no less).  But what these superior green fingered associates cannot contest, is the gobsmacking display of roses that rolls up just in the spring-cum-summer interface. Bullsmead Court looks a total picture, our rose display is absolutely top drawer! This one (right) is Buff Beauty, Mrs Melling's scented favourite, often first out and also last out, flowers in swathes and multitudes!

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 roses 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). Numerous different shrubs, 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 bushes and trees, 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.

Sadly of course we have no such green patch in Sablet . . . the one thing we thought we wouldn't need and the one thing we miss the most. The envy we display at our good friends the Kaisers' shady jardinette with olive tree and good ground cover, is heart felt. We will be a bit sorry then, to leave the garden here in North Devon – as we are indeed going to risk the summer sun this year in Sablet (we held back last summer and boy, were we glad we did as it was une scorcher and far too hot for my cool temperate liking, according to the reports of those who sat out the 2017 roast . . .). We trust we may once more sip a suitable libation in the Kaiser garden even before June is out and hot July makes shade imperative. Other friends and accomplices of course may also ply us with refreshment, we won't hold it against them if they are sans jardin.

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 . . .