By Paige Patterson
Before Saturday night’s rain, we’d been having a very dry early summer, and although it felt each night like we were still waiting for spring to start, there was just enough heat for everyone’s roses to be able to really show off all their glory. Of course, timing being what timing is, I wasn’t able to stop by my friend’s glorious garden to admire his fabulous collection and to congratulate him on his 11 ribbons and his silver medal from the Southampton Rose Society’s Annual Rose Show until the following evening, right after work.
“It’s a soggy mess,” is how he greeted me at the entrance gate, “but here’s your rosé anyway.”
If only my garden looked as glorious as his “mess.”
This is one of the great advantages in working in the garden industry, I get to see a slew of gardens, and although it’s always a joy, sometimes I get a twinge of garden envy. A Little Green Monster that looks at someone else’s property and thinks, “I want that.” Sunday night I had more than a little twinge as we wandered through his property wine glasses in hand, I think my skin actually was showing more than a tinge of Verdi as we sipped and walked.
It’s a small property, but there is a garden that is gloriously full of roses incorporated into all the beds, scrambling up walls and posts and over pergolas — even wrapping themselves up and over the railing on his second floor master bedroom porch. It is a glorious property, a jewel box of color and fragrance filled with roses rare and voluptuous.
Now just like him, I have Eden roses, but while his have muscled their way up and around his entrance pergola posts to make a ceiling of the softest, most fragrant pink imaginable, mine are just starting to make an impact on the fence where I’ve been training them for three or four years. He has a rambling rose in a dusty purple lavender color that he bought as a small 1 gallon two years ago that is now dripping from the eves of his garage/carriage house — a beauty that made me seriously consider rose theft.
But it was his Leonardo Da Vinci rose that really brought out the green monster within me. The Leonardo Da Vinci rose is part of the Romantica Series and was created by the same breeder who bred the Eden rose, a Frenchman named Jacques Mouchette, the director of the illustrious Meilland Group. The Meilland Group has also brought us such stunners as Bonica, Yves Piaget, Carefree Wonder and Carefree Delight and the Drift roses. He is not to be trifled with, and actually builds better roses than (dare I say it?) David Austin, in my humble estimation. And Leonardo was staring me in the face, daring me not to shout out this thought to the heavens.
In Europe, Leonardo Da Vinci is a well behaved medium to large sized shrub, but when it was brought to this country, it started showing a tendency to ramble and my friend’s has grown like it’s a steroid junkie, swamping the front of his pool house and enveloping it in a curtain of pink that just keeps on growing and throwing out the most delicious quartered, old fashioned looking flowers that bloom on and on and on.
Rich pink, gorgeous and able to last over a week when cut, I long for this rose; but of course, it’s not one of the ones we bought in this year, so I can’t have it.
And to make matters worse, he said I was the one who’d sold it to him.
“Why didn’t you get one too, Paige?” he asked knowing that I am a plant junkie.
The regrets of plantaholics are classified in long lists in our minds, or as we get a little older, on scraps of paper, moleskin journals, or the electronic notes section of our phones.
I told him that I most definitely would be getting them in next year, if they were available, but that luckily at the shop we had cornered the market on the best white rose on the planet, also created by the same breeder. This rose, called White Meidland is one of the best, low maintenance roses of all time, disease free with great dark foliage and a tendency to bloom ridiculously well, it also looks (unlike the Knock Outs — another easy to grow rose) like a great old fashioned rose. Tons of petals, quartered like Leonardo Da Vinci and fabulous.
Unlike Leonardo, it’s not a Romantica, but instead is more of a groundcover, or landscape rose, a spreader, but it’s excellent in pots, and well deserving of a home in any kind of garden. And already has found a home in mine.
So okay, no Leonardo Da Vinci for me this year, but I could quell my desire for lush beauty by just throwing a couple more of these into the trunk of my car. So the next day I strode into the nursery, parked by the rose section, opened my trunk and reached for the White Meidland, when out of the corner of my eye, wait, isn’t that the last two Pretty in Pink Eden roses, new this year and gorgeously vivid where the original is baby soft pink? How could our sharp-eyed rose connoisseurs not have swept those two babies up? I grabbed both knowing that although I had to have one of them, my friend’s garden would be the perfect home for the other. Oh and of course, I threw in a couple more of the White Meidlands, I mean how else could I handle the Little Green Monster?
Paige Patterson has never refused a rose bush a home, although she did finally rip out the two red rootstock roses that pushed up from funeral pyres of this winter’s two causalities.