I am growing this rose, only because it was the name of a lovely Anglo Arab pony that wonderful Penelope borrowed from someone for me for the summer holidays . She gave me complete care of him but although i woke at 6 am and longed to get on my bike and peddle off to Wantage , to the Mead Waterfowl Farm , I thought I might be in the way so when I did venture in at about 10 it was to a
barrage of scolding as Penelope had had to bring Pegasus in from the fieldd and feed him and that was my job and why was I not there to do it……Although he was the most elegant chestnut gelding with lovely ways about him he suffered from a thing called sweet itch which meant he got some sort of excema on his mane and tail and had to be kept away from summer grass as he scratched himself to bits on the fences. So he had a mangy old mane and his tail was sort of raw at the top .He would rear elegantly when he saw a bit of paper flapping or a tractor approaching and delicately nip blackberries from the hedges as we passed .But to me he was the perfect pal and I was happy as a sandboy to ride him.
As for the rose.. yes .. it grows well and is healthy and long stemmed but for me it is like so many of the David Austin roses … too much and too magnificent to be endearing.
This well loved rose is classed as a Noisette… not because , as I thought , it had anything to do with nuts , but because a nurseryman named Phillippe Noisette in South Carolina raised a repeat flowering rose from seed and took one along to Paris in 1814 where French hybridists soon realised it value. In Lyon , J Schwartz created from these beginnings Mme Alfred Carriere, named after the wife of the editor of the Revue Horticole. Mme Alf as we call her has always been a favourite and I remember Julie Lincoln, the ballet mistress at the Royal Ballet School where I worked , looking up coldly and remarking .” There’s an awful lot of Madams in your garden!” and I realised there were indeed and I ought to find out more about them … hence this blog .
Lady Hillingdon climbing rose…
Lady Hillingdon is a beautiful yellow climbing rose reaching 5m in height. She has slender dark red stems which easily identify her, and lovely apricot yellow flowers becoming paler as the flower opens
The real Lady Hillingdon who this rose was named after , was married to the then MP for Sevenoakes and famously recorded in her journal of 1912…
“When I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, open my legs and think of England.”
Her escape from an unpleasant experience into the idea of a green and pleasant land may have been inspired this poem “In a strange land” published by a homesick ex -pat in a New Zealand newspaper of 1906……
`’Oh, to lie awake at night and think of England,
Out of reach and far away;
Oh, to see her in the distance as a picture,
And let your fancy play.’’
Poor Lady Hillingdon ! I am glad she had a lovely rose named after her…. and it is not perhaps surprising that this rose was raised by Lowe and Shawyer of Uxbridge…. only 8 minutes away from Hillingdon by car…..
Mermaid was the first rose that I knew who had a name . She was a favourite of my mother in law who hoped to grow her in her little Chelsea back garden but all that could be seen of the rose was her great thorny stem,her flowers had long ago galloped over the wall and vanished in the neighbours neglected garden .
We then had her in our first house in Fulham where she grew from the basement up to the top bathroom window .A deterrent if everthere was to burglars …and we would stand and gaze up at her and wonder how we would ever get to pick any flowers .
I am always so happy if I see her anywhere growing . She is so unmistakeable with her yellow petals and bright stamens.I would grow her again if I had the space .. if only for old times sake ……
This wonderfully lovely rose was raised by William Paul and Son in about 1917, a man responsible for the rampant Paul’s Himalayan Musk amonst others , and no one knows why he gave this savage climber with her lovely glossy leaves and beautiful generous yellow flowers this name.She grows from 15 to 20 feet so be warned.
This lovely rose , so generous , free flowering and charming, was raised by Joseph Hardwick Pemberton, a vicar, who was born on 5 October, 1852 at Havering-atte -Bower in Essex… Reverend J.H. Pemberton would have been well-trained in the Classics and the names of his roses such as Danae and Cornelia would have come from this source. Penelope was the faithful wife of Odysseus in Homers classic tale. She kept her suitors at bay for twenty-one years whilst her husband was away on his travels. The story is more developed than this but she is generally famed for her faithfulness.
In 1874, Joseph made up his mind to enter some of the family roses in a rose show… He won second prize, and from that moment he was
an exhibitor of roses, with his sister Florence as his willing and enthusiastic helper… By 1896 they were growing about 4,000 roses He dearly loved the remnants of his grandmother’s roses in the garden ['Aimee Vibert', 'De Meaux', 'Tuscany' and others]. In 1882, he took some of them to a National Rose Society Show in South Kensington, and asked permission to stage them ‘Not for Competition.’… He labelled his exhibit ‘Grandmother’s Roses’. . He wanted roses which would survive and bloom after all around them had perished. In 1919, Pemberton adopted the term Hybrid Musk to describe his roses and in 1924 he introduced Penelope.
I first heard of Constance Spry as a very young thing when I made fudge for King Alfred’s Kitchen , a tea shop unwillingy run by Penelope Betjemam at her husband’s insistence in Wantage.She always had this big pink book in her kitchen and I see now from my own copy that I bought it in 1966 when I was 21……My daughter Kitty knew the book well and when she started to work at St John’s she told the chefs there what a good cookery book it was but they were highly disappointed when she bought it in for them to see for they had understood it to be the Constant Surprise cookery book.
Penelope was a wonderful cook, her chubby hands with their wrists encircled with Indian silver bracelets , could tame a horse , whip up an apple meringue a, disembowl a chicken and busily type up her travel notes with a wagger pagger bagger at her side to catch all the mistakes in the typing .Anyway.. To get back to Connie … when I had an allotment with a high wall I decided to grow the rose that was named after her in memory of all these happy times and she did indeed climb the wall but I found her to be a harsh thorny thing and although she produced huge blooms , the smell seemed to me to be like lavatory cleaner and so I would not grow her again. On the other hand .. there will always be room in a garden of mine for Penelope…….
Pink Grootendorst…Bred by De Goey (Netherlands, 1918).
Introduced in Netherlands by F. J. Grootendorst & Sons in 1918 as ‘F.J. Grootendorst’.
This rose I first saw at Hatch Manor in Wiltshire when the children were young and I have never forgotten its lovely petals , all trimmed at the edge as if with pinking shears
Camillus Kitty Cicely and I went to visit James Stern who lived in a beautiful old house full of paintings by everyone famous.He even had a Picasso screen print which was the same as the one I had one which I had bought for £5.00 in an old antique shop in Kew Road,
I remember that when I bought it the shopkeeper smiled sadly at me and said “It’s not a real Picasso you know “
Of course I didn’t think it was , but I thought it would look nice in the children’s bedroom. However , they thought otherwise as it
frightened them as it was rather a sad clown ….so I gave to the school jumble sale ….
I was a bit mortified when i realised what I had done ..I shall trust my own judgement in the future …
Jimmy Stern was a great writer and I have put some of his work here for you to read…….