Just after the latest snow squall, our faithful mailman launched a hefty David Austin® Handbook of Roses 2015 catalog through the mail slot. What a jolt of color! As gray clouds blotted out the sun and sleet splattered the windows, I turned page after page of summer.
David Austin is a horticulturalist who combines science and art to conjure some of the most beautiful roses in existence. His English roses blend attributes of Old Roses and Modern Hybrid Teas and Floribundas into a rose that embodies charm, fragrance, and romance. Picture the perfect English cottage in the perfect English village. Now picture roses tumbling over the cottage wall or climbing an arbor over the front door. That rose of your imagination is made real by David Austin’s scientific artistry. And not only are the roses beautiful and fragrant (and expensive), they are resistant to disease.
Could one survive the Blackest Thumb in Virginia? My kids tease that I like the blackened petals that are the inevitable result of my gardening, and actually I do think there is an unexpected beauty in even my deadest victims, er, plants.
David Austin roses are essentially English. Their names evoke history and tradition: Thomas a Becket, Maid Marion, Scepter’d Isle. The Lichfield Angel, a creamy white, is inspired by the Lichfield Angel, a limestone sculpture panel from Lichfield Cathedral. The heavenly The Lark Ascending rose is named for the musical work by Ralph Vaughan Willliams.
In the David Austin® Handbook of Roses 2015, literary allusions tumble like visual poetry over a cottage fence: Tess of the d’Urbervilles (with a “lovely Old Rose fragrance”); the soft pink A Shropshire Lad™, named for the work by A. E. Housman; the flamboyant orange, red, and gold Lady of Shalott.
Jude the Obscure, named for the character in the Thomas Hardy novel of the same name, is a pale, almost shy, yellow. Heathcliff ™is a dangerously deep crimson. The catalog states “few roses are as popular as this one, and few so difficult to breed.”
Did you notice the ™? Many of David Austin’s roses are ™. I try not to let this intrusion, like an IRS audit at a tea party, pull me out of my springtime reverie.
|Lady Emma Hamilton|
David Austin roses may evoke English gentility, but there is a rose named for Horatio Nelson’s lover. The Lady Emma Hamilton rose, an indiscreet, fiery coral color, is, the catalog assures me, perfect for “creating a little excitement in the border.”
So, Writers Who Kill, do you have a black thumb or a green? How do you bring some color into these gray, snowy days?