June 24, 2013

Drivelling on about roses (again)


Yes, well, a garden post is highly suitable for midsummer day.

Bratsche wrote:

Any idea what the yellow & red (orange?) rose is in the 6th picture down? I’m planning to put more roses in my garden next year.

It fascinates me that this is the rose that got the most attention—I even had a couple of emails and one text about her.  I don’t like her much myself—aside from the fact that all roses are good—and almost didn’t run the photo, but then I thought, no, no, people like different things, and I’m trying to run a range.  So the photo went in.*  Clearly this was a good decision.

I’ve not grown her** but if you want a guess, I guess she’s Tequila Sunrise.  There are some awful photos of her on the web if you google her, but she does look just like this:  a very intensely yellow rose with a lot of petals and scarlet edges.  The amount and intensity of the scarlet edge varies with the weather—and the usual caveats about a rose planted in a different location may look different apply here too.  The only other rose I can think of—and I had a quick google too—that is vivid yellow with scarlet edges is Golden Jubilee, and she’s a classic Hybrid Tea shape, high-centred with fewer petals, and in my experience less scarlet edge.

If you like the red, orange and yellow thing you might look up Masquerade and Joseph’s Coat.  I grew Joseph’s Coat at the old house and have a Masquerade, compliments of the previous owner, at Third House—both climbers although they come shrub sized as well.***  You might also look up Harry Wheatcroft, erm, the rose, which is bright red and yellow stripes.  Again it varies with weather and climate, and there are some dreadful photos out there† but at her best she’s zebra-striped, if there were red and yellow zebras.  And then there is Oranges and Lemons, which is orange and yellow striped. . . .

Note:  Do not, repeat not, now assume that I can identify all roses from a casual glance at a photo.  Or even a studied stare in a garden.  Both Aloha and Tequila Sunrise are memorable in their different ways.  There are a lot of—pink, say—roses out there that I wouldn’t have a CLUE about, unless they were something I’d grown and got to know up close and personal.  Also a lot of roses are in the garden centres for a year or five and disappear forever, and maybe ten years later you walk past the only one who ever really got her roots down and thrived and you want to know who she is . . . My best advice to anyone—anyone who doesn’t want to go totally doolally and grow over five hundred roses and learn everything the hard way—is to find a local nursery that is run by people who grow at least some of their own plants and ask what does well in your area.  If you want half a dozen moderately well-behaved roses††, blindly follow their advice.  If you have a few rebellious thoughts of your own, buy a book on growing roses††† and hit the internet for specialist rose growers. . . .

Heh heh heh heh heh heh.

* * *

* I’ve grown quite a few roses I don’t love, either by whimsy, a spirit of experimentation, or being sold the wrong frelling plant.^  And the bottom line is that anything that does well will keep her place.  I had a fair number of ‘great bush, pity about the flowers’ at the old house, and one or two here.  You keep flowering, honey, you’re golden.

^ Leafless bare-root roses do look rather alike.  It’s like the dahlia Russian Roulette I play every year with dahlia cuttings from the National Dahlia Collection.  When something you know has black leaves shows up with green leaves you know you’re in trouble.  Mostly you just have to wait till the flowers appear.  I’m watching the first buds swelling now.  Nothing is the wrong colour yet but the summer is young in dahlia terms.

** I love Aloha, which is the other one someone on the forum asked me to identify.  She’s beginning to get hard to find however.  All named roses are clones—grafts—cuttings—and you can clone something only so many times before it starts wearing out.  Some roses go on for centuries but most don’t.  Aloha is apparently losing her vigour, which makes me sad.  I grew her at the old house but I’m having trouble getting her established at the cottage.

*** They’re also both old, so availability may be patchy.

† The one on the David Austin site, for example.  Fie.

†† Moderately is the best you can hope for.

††† And buy one written in your country.  If you go the doolally route and start a rose library, then you will certainly want books by rose nutters all around the world.  But a basic rose book for Australia is going to frustrate the well-rotted farmyard manure out of you if you live in the UK and are just starting to grow roses.  Ask me how I know this.  Things may have improved in the twenty years since I was a beginning rose-grower however.  One thing I think hasn’t changed is that the same rose may have three different names in three different countries.  Good luck.  Sometimes the best idea is to go somewhere during the blooming season that has roses in plastic pots, and go, ooh, I’ll have that one.  And take her/them home.  Be sure to buy rose food.  Anything that blooms as hard as a good rose does is hungry.

Surviving the installation of a new bathroom iii (guest post by AJLR)


After all the trials and horrors of the first eight days, we were looking forward eagerly to seeing the new bathroom fittings going in and being able to wash in comfort again. I’m sure that anyone who has had similar work carried out can remember the feeling of simple gratitude when the work nears its finish and what one had taken for granted beforehand seems almost luxurious. For example, I would no longer have to drag myself to the gym every day at an abnormally early hour to use their showering facilities, we could stop using the kitchen sink for late-night teeth-washing, and my husband could stop performing his early morning artistic tableau of ‘Man engaged with his external environment’ method of showering in the garden (he doesn’t like using the showers at the gym).

The shower tray went in, together with the Mermaid wall panels that we had chosen to have in the shower area – I was fed up with tiles in a shower area. Either one is forever trying to keep the grouting clean and white or one feels perpetually guilty because one isn’t managing to keep it pristine. So solid panels it was, with a colourway of ‘Cream Amber’. The glass wall between the shower and the rest of the bathroom was also in (see final picture in last blog post). The shower system we chose was a Mira Platinum, both because we liked the idea of something digital that manages the water temperature and also because it was…er…fun. All those different types of water jet from the swivelling shower head, and the easy-to-grip-when-soapy handle, and a digital control that tells you the time when it’s not showing the temperature! What’s not to like? OK, I know one doesn’t often need to know the time when showering but if I needed to, I now could!  We’d gone for a pumped system, as living in a single-storey house has always meant that our hot water runs with no great force. If we wanted a reasonable stream of water from the shower, a pumped version it had to be. An overhead extractor fan, vented through the roof  space to the outside, ensures that we don’t have to grope through clouds of steam or worry about condensation affecting things.

The wash basin and tap had been a cause of considerable angst during the design period. I am definitely not a tidy washer and neither is my husband, so the water tends to spread a little. We therefore needed a large enough wash basin that we weren’t going to flood the floor on a regular basis. As regards the tap, I have had to stay in so many hotels for business trips over the last 10 years that I’ve lost count of the number of them where the basin tap is a monolithic lump of chrome sticking out and up so far from the centre back of the basin that one is practically asking to be concussed when bending over to rinse one’s face. So our tap had to be something safe and with a swivelling spout to take it out of the way when required. I am pleased to say that the one we chose hasn’t attacked either of us yet. I also wanted a basin without those hard-to-clean little indented areas for soap tablets to sit and fester in, gradually disintegrating because they don’t drain properly. I refuse to use liquid soap from a container – they are about as un-green as you can get, with all those containers being thrown away once empty – and instead intended to get a soap drainer dish that would stand on the back shelf of the basin (we eventually had one made by a local pottery, as none of those in the bathroom shops were exactly what I wanted). So, this is what it looked like when in:

Basin and loo

The loo we had chosen was one that was suspended from a nice streamlined wall cabinet, so we could clean easily underneath and round it.

Basin and loo ii

The radiator was installed and immediately became a hot favourite (no, really). With the new circuit in so that we can turn on the heat at any time, it’s so comforting to have warm dry towels for all ablutions and very handy indeed to have all those hanging surfaces if anything needs to dry quickly. And a storage cabinet – oh the joy of being able to get everything Put Away out of sight. With the drawer under the basin as well as the cabinet, I now have so much storage space in there that I can actually find things easily, rather than having to search through small stacks of things. And when I was thinking beforehand about how using the bathroom would work, I realised that we would need some towel hooks at the dry end of the shower area in order to avoid dripping across the floor to get to the radiator/towel rack. So some well-designed and shiny double hooks went up.


Anyway, you’ll have gathered that we were pleased with how everything was working out. The flooring looked good and is easy to sweep round now with barely any ledges or extraneous corners, with the tiling on the window and basin wall looking clean and simple. We’d gone for large plain tiles (less grouting…) in ivory and with a slightly matt finish so that we weren’t dazzled by reflections. The downlighters in the new ceiling were doing their job well and once the decorator had been in on the penultimate day to do the walls and ceiling (in Dulux ‘Apricot White’)) then the lights were pushed back up into their recesses (the bathroom people had left them hanging down, looking like the ends of alien tentacles, so that the painter could easily avoid splashing the bits that would later be flush with the ceiling) and there we were. All done – and everything in the 9 x 7 foot space worked well together.

Keeping clean – us and the bathroom – has never been such a pleasure.

KES, 84



The trip back to the Friendly Campfire was uneventful except for the harpy and the flock of carrion crows with silver eyes and golden beaks shouting prophesies—no, no, I’m making it up about the crows.  And a good thing too, I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but I was pretty sure I heard ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘hellmouth’.

I kept glancing in my rear-view mirror—which I could see out of again, with the back of the van empty, although the window between the seat and the back was a little smudgy, like maybe a dog had been putting her nose against it—but Nilesh was always behind me.  Huh.  Coming back with me to make sure Serena knew about his heroism.  Maybe he didn’t trust me to be generous after the little episode with my new neighbors.  (I was only renting.  If they really were breeding orcs I could probably break the lease and move again.  Hayley would believe me about the orcs.  I wasn’t sure about Sally.  And then I thought about the five hundred and eighty-six book boxes.  Maybe I could stick it out with the orcs.)  Maybe he wanted to get his version of the little episode with the neighbors in first.  Maybe he wanted to reassure me that harpy sightings in this area were really rare and I shouldn’t worry about it and prophesying carrion crows never got this far north.

We bumped a little too springily up over the curb into the Friendly Campfire parking lot.  The van, not in the first flush of youth generally, maybe needed new shock absorbers.  It wasn’t only the last few days, was it?  I’d bucked slowly through all the potholes, really I had—especially now I had a dog to think about.

I pulled up in front of cabin number seven next to Merry and stopped.  There wasn’t room for Nilesh too, who pulled into the gap between seven and cabin eight.  The three large deviant vehicles together looked like a convocation of those people your mother warned you about.  I climbed out of the van to admire the view better, looking around anxiously for impressionable children or easily frightened old ladies.   I didn’t see any, but I saw Mike step down from Nilesh’s cab and walk toward us—that is, Merry, Sid and me.  I didn’t know Mike at all well, but it seemed to me that he looked maybe a little tense, maybe a little awkward—and was he keeping his back to the Friendly Campfire office a little too deliberately?

Six-forty:  JoJo would be here any minute.  I’d better have a last sweep through the van for renegade dog food and deinonychus eggs.  “You okay?” Mike said.  He looked about as much at his ease as Sherlock Holmes at a Tarot card readers’ convention.

“I was about to ask you the same thing,” I said.

The office door banged.  Mike flinched.  I found myself trying not to laugh.  Well, it made a change from being the spurned ex-wife.  I didn’t even know if Gelasio’s floozy was pretty.  As well as being smarter than Euclid and Garry Kasparov put together.  Maybe he really was marrying her for her brain.  Did she ever wear All Stars?  Did she ever shop at Trash & Vaudeville?  Was she tall or short?  Fat or skinny?  What did she do with her spare time?  Run marathons?  Write sonnets?  I hadn’t wanted to know anything about her.

I didn’t want to know anything about her.  I fixed my gaze firmly on Serena, who had a sort of Henry Thoreau at a cocktail party look, rather similar to the Sherlock Holmes hanging with Tarot readers look.

“Hey,” said Serena.

“Hey,” I said, and shut up.  Mike was turning around like the old bounty hunter in someone else’s sights at last, wanting, as his last gesture, to see who’s going to drop him.

This was as good as a play.

“Hey,” said Mike.

They stared at each other. Pyramus and Thisbe.  Hero and Leander.  Buffy and Angel.  Katherine Hepburn and Spencer . . . no, I wasn’t in the mood for adulterous husbands.

I had been planning to lead with the neighbors, but I didn’t have the heart.  It would be like kicking a puppy because it barfed on your shoes.  It had been cute a minute ago.  It’ll be cute again.  Next time don’t let it loose in the long grass where you can’t see what it’s up to.  Next time insist on meeting the neighbors before you sign the lease.  “Mike’s been carrying several thousand books up the outside stairs at Ro—at my new ho—uh.”  Fortunately they weren’t paying attention to me.  I couldn’t say either “Rose Manor”, which sounded like somewhere Sheila Lanchester might live, or “my house” out loud with an ordinary possessive tone and deportment.  I was so lacking in normal grown-up human expertise.  Maybe I could practise.  “Rose Manor” was probably pushing it, but surely I could learn to say “my house.”  It was just unfamiliarity.  We hadn’t called the penthouse anything.

Yes we had.  We’d called it “home.”

Other People’s Roses


I bundled the full complement into Wolfgang this morning and after we delivered poor starving Pav* to the (ordinary) vet for some follow-up tests** hellhounds and I went on to Mauncester and had a hurtle there.  This was less about getting out of our standard-walk rut and more about roses.  I’d been in Mauncester about a week ago and thought I HAVE TO COME BACK WITH MY CAMERA.  SOON.  Fortunately hellhounds are pretty patient with me in the clutches of Photo Mania.***



P1050231 crop




P1050241 crop




P1050238 crop


P1050242 crop


P1050244 crop


P1050249 crop


P1050245 crop

 * * *

* ‘No food for twelve hours’:  She missed not only breakfast but last night’s bedtime snack as well^—and there was no kibble waiting for her in the back of her travelling crate.  I’m sure her stomach was sticking to her spine.  When I retrieved her this afternoon she went into her travelling crate like a rocket launcher, since there was kibble in there now.

^ And our bedtime snack ritual is interesting.

** The first thing is that I’m very grateful for all the sympathy and support I’m receiving in response to my hellcritter situation.  It really does make a difference, as anyone who’s been in a bad beleaguered spot will understand:  it goes with the territory that your default belief is that you’re All Alone in the Universe and reminders that this is untrue are like . . . oh.  Um.  Reality check.  WELL THAT’S A RELIEF.

But . . . before you decide to offer advice, please remember I’ve been coping with the hellhounds’ alarmingly erratic digestion for seven years—and I’ve seen a lot of vets and talked to a lot of people and read a lot of books and articles about canine health and manifestations of its lack.  I also have several good friends who are either professional dog people (like Southdowner) or have merely had lots and lots and lots of dogs in their lives—or are medical-research junkies.  The basics are very well covered, frequently several times.  And while over these last few months as whatever-it-is frelling snowballs I have often been stressed and sleepless past coherent thought—Peter and my friends aren’t, and they’re keeping an eye on me.  Okay?  Thanks.

*** As long as I don’t indulge too often.





Blah blah blah blah hellcritter digestion blah blah blah aaaaaugh blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah moan blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah whimper blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah despair blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah  blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah AAAAAAAAUGH blah blah blah blah blah blah nothing to say anyone would want to read blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah have to get up crack of dawn tomorrow to get Pav in for another test. . . .





Another short post tonight.

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