One of my favorite adventures in gardening, thus far, has been growing, tending and connecting to English Roses. While the Rose has many symbols spanning various cultures and times, in the Pythia Botanica Oracle, I write about this enchanting bloom providing a beacon of compassion. In my eyes, it is a botanical that inverts traditional understandings of love, that uplifts us on even our saddest of days and may serve as a mighty force of healing. It's a strong, soft and powerful bloom of inimitable beauty. Growing such beauties, being among the joy, excitement and love they provide, brings such fulfillment into my heart.
This season, I grew most of my Roses from bare roots, planting them both in the ground and in wooden barrels. There's a feeling of the unknown when you decide to grow from the ground up. Whether it's starting seeds and anxiously waiting to see what germinated, or whether it's growing dormant plants or bare roots and seeking some new form of life. At first, I was intimidated, but after caring for them and patiently waiting, small bits of growth would rise. A new cane coming in turned into more leaves and then more branches, until those bare roots transformed into budding bushes nearly as tall as I am; flourishing and expanding.
The first to bloom was my Alnwick Rose, a dainty, cupped head with too many petals to count, that expanded as it aged with a gradient of ballerina pinks. Crown Princess Margareta followed, whose blooms were enveloped in layers of peach, buttercup and cream, and whose fade in the June sun has been an awe-inspiring revelation. Crown Princess Margareta has been an abundant bloomer, giving, giving, giving, and I am so thankful for her. Princess Alexandra of Kent was next with little buds that unfolded into giant blooms as big as my hand: hardy, cascading petals with the quintessential "rose" shade of pink one can't help but describe as lovely. This Rose also happens to be my boyfriend's favorite. He generally prefers keeping a darker palette in the garden of various burgundy shades running amok, but he fell for this beautiful bloom, too.
If you couldn't already tell, I am quite partial to peach in all of its hues, so when my Teasing Georgia Rose popped, so did my heart. She carries a true-blue peach color that also fades into cream as she ages, with a myriad of folded petals and the slightest sweet scent. This Rose has also been very fast growing, with tons of new buds already spread throughout, and I can't help but feel excited for what the coming weeks will bring.
The Ambridge and Jude the Obscure emerged next, my largest Rose bushes and slowest to bloom. With cooler-than-normal temperatures in my area, it felt like those little buds had been opening at snail speed, and I had been checking to see if they had bursted forth every day for nearly a month. But, as all good things do, they took their time. The wait was worth it, as it begot such brilliant blooms the day they chose to join the garden.
Ambridge Rose petals delicately unfolded first, and brought forth a fragrance that took me right back to my childhood. Visions of eating ripe strawberries, freshly picked, and cotton candy carnivals filled my head upon first blush. While all of the English Roses have unique beauty, Ambridge was something especially magical: nostalgic and new all at once. It was as if we knew each other from several lifetimes past, and my connection to her felt instant and surprising. She carries multiple buds to one stem, bursting forth with a gradient of cream, blush, coral and salmon-pink. It also seems I am not the only one to connect with her, as there's a not-so-little spider weaving the most intricate of webs on one of her leaves.
I had high expectations for the lauded Jude the Obscure, and she did not disappoint. In trying to find ways to describe her, I can't help but think of her as a showman: building anticipation, quietly growing and working behind the scenes until all those buds open like a velvet curtain. Jaw-dropping blooms came forth, the stage set for a summer of immaculate colors. Jude has warm, yellow colored outer petals that transform into a very pretty peach towards the center. All around her, the scent of sweet citrus fills the air, and her shape is one of my favorites. At this moment, she is full of new buds and I can't even wait to watch her story unfold.
I can’t quite put into words how much this little garden means to me. Each day I’m both mystified and grateful to awaken to bloom upon bloom, and inspired to memorialize them, their spirits, songs and beauty in my work. Sitting on the stones and illustrating in the garden has become one of my favorite past times, and I have so many exciting new pieces to share with you. Although it has been quite the obstacle to part from my garden for even a moment.