One of my favorite ventures in gardening over the years has been growing, tending to and connecting to English Roses. While the Rose has many symbols, in the Pythia Botanica Oracle, I write about this enchanting bloom as a beacon of compassion. In my eyes, it is a botanical that inverts traditional understandings of love, that uplifts us on even our saddest days and may serve as a mighty force of healing. It's a strong, soft and powerful bloom whose beauty is unparalleled. In growing Roses, I have found this to be true and the joy, excitement and love they provide to be most fulfilling.
I grow almost all 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 waiting to see what sprouted, 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 start to rise. A new stem coming in, turns into more leaves and then more branches, until those bare roots transform into budding bushes nearly as tall as I am; flourishing and expanding. I first started this journey growing Alnwick Rose, a dainty, cupped head with too many petals to count, that expanded as it aged, donning a gradient of ballerina pinks. Followed by Crown Princess Margareta, whose blooms were enveloped in layers of peach, buttercup and cream, and whose fade in the June sun has been the most beautiful of all. 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 unfold into giant blooms as big as my hand, hardy petals that cascade around and the quintessential "rose" shade of pink one can't help but describe as lovely.
If you couldn't already tell, I am quite partial to peach in all of it's hues, so when my Teasing Georgia Rose pops, so does my heart. This Rose carries a true-blue peach color that also fades into cream with age, a myriad of folded petals, and the slightest sweet scent. Teasing Georgia has been very fast growing, with tons of new buds already spread throughout and I can't help but feel excited for what the coming seasons will bring.
Then came Ambridge and Jude the Obscure, my largest Rose bushes, grown in wooden barrels. Ambridge Rose is a delight, whose petals delicately unfold and bring forth a fragrance that takes me right back to my childhood. Visions of eating ripe strawberries, freshly picked, and cotton candy carnivals fill my head whenever she blooms. While all of the English Roses are beautiful and unique in their own right, Ambridge is something special: completely nostalgic and new all at once. Every season that we meet, it feels as though we knew each other several lifetimes past, and my connection to her was instant and surprising. Ambridge carries multiple buds to one stem, bursting forth with a gradient of cream, blush, coral and salmon. It also seems I am not the only one to connect with her, as each season brings along not-so-little spiders that weave the most intricate of webs in her petals and leaves. And then there was Jude the Obscure. I had high expectations for this lauded Rose, and she did not disappoint. In trying to find ways to describe her, I can't help but to think of her as a showman: building anticipation, quietly growing and working behind the scenes until...bam! All of those buds are opening with jaw-dropping blooms coming forth. Jude has warm, honey 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.Alnwick, Ambridge, Jude the Obscure, Teasing Georgia, Crown Princess Margareta, and Princess Alexandra of Kent started this journey with me years ago, and our family of English Roses has continued to expand with each growing season ever since. Tending to these Roses and to my little garden continues to be the most transformative experience. There's always so much to grow, to tend to, to learn from these blooms.