Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’: A Crimson Purple Gallica Rose With A Classic Old Rose Scent

A semi-double dark crimson rose with golden stamens

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb”s semi-double flowers are full enough to amply frame a central boss of golden stamens, lifted by glimpses of white around the eye. The petals have a rich, velvety character. You’ll see ‘Tuscany Superb’ described as maroon, purple, crimson, burgundy. I’ve contented myself with crimson-purple, but you can take your pick! As the flowers age, their colour darkens.

We have relatively few scented, crimson-purple rose varieties, and this one remains popular with those who are willing to grow roses that are summer flowering (the industry term for once-flowering). While some roses are grown as a thorny deterrent, ‘Tuscany Superb’ rose is prickly at best.

Depending on which expert you believe (in the absence of the luxury of having a bloom before you to savour), the fragrance is either medium or strong. Everyone agrees on its character, which is a classic Old Rose fragrance.  Continue reading

Fern Frozen Against A Mossy Moor

Frost-covered fern lying on moss

An old, unflattering rhyme I’ve never liked calls my home town’s moors bleak and barren. Perhaps if you don’t like moorland or have never taken the time to walk on it, you might think so. I suppose some people might care little for what walkers can find on a winter day up there by venturing a few steps off the path.

If you follow my blog you can expect to see brighter, bolder pictures of plant combinations taken in gardens or at flower shows, where skilled, creative hands have put together their best for public consumption.

I’m not sure you’ll see any plant combination I could look at with much more pleasure than this.

In the textures of the frozen vegetation, I seem to see fabric: the fern becomes lace; the moss, wool or velvet. The colours are alluring too: sage, mint and chocolate, the latter frosted to mink. Nothing is jazzy, all is harmonious. I’d love something to wear in a design inspired by this.

It may appear haphazard – there are a few wayward stems, but the fern and strands of grass have surrendered to the frost gracefully and a natural order is appearing – of sorts. Towards the top left, a thaw has started.  Continue reading

Parliament Of Owls In A Woodland Garden

Eight stone owls with etched details and yellow eyes

If the idea of gardening merely prompts memories of garden chores such as leaf-blowing, mowing, edging, dead-heading, thank your lucky stars you don’t have to engage in large scale owl-shifting.

Hearing Sherra Owen (whose garden these owls inhabit) on MPB radio reminded me that I had not yet shared my picture of her stone owl log. It is unfair of me not to say once again what a wonderful woodland garden she has, but she’s such a lovely person, I feel sure she won’t mind. Even her wooden fence thrills me, to say nothing of her trilliums, hellebores and other woodland ephemerals.

Apparently one of the things about encouraging owls to roost on fallen timber is that the wood decays and the owls fall… or rather they would, if the lady in question did not move them to a freshly fallen log. Continue reading

Abbotsford: Sir Walter Scott’s Home In The Scottish Borders

Wide flower borders in front of a castle-like house

You would have thought that with scenery like this, I’d have come home with some first-rate pictures of Abbotsford, the castle-style home Sir Walter Scott built, but as I spent the time there in a weird state of literary reverie, this is as good as I could muster.

I read Waverley, as a youngster, but I’m ashamed to confess I have forgotten it. The Bride Of Lammermoor, a romantic horror story, stays with me.  Continue reading

David C.H. Austin OBE: A Personal Valediction

It was a sad day when I opened an e-mail to tell me that David C.H. Austin (or ‘Mr A’ to many of those who knew him) had died at the age of 92. So close to the company’s Christmas party, I imagined, just a couple of days before the anniversary of the death of his wife, Pat. You can read the official obituary of someone who will always be one of my heroes on the David Austin Roses website. Here, I’m sharing my memories of the man who changed my life when he approved my appointment to one of the most fascinating jobs I can imagine.  Continue reading

Playing With Wool

Bug with pink nose and cute expression

Wool and metal bug by Debie Deaton

Debie Deaton sculpts with wool, creating colourful, upscale toys and puppets like this little bug. I met her at Mississippi’s Chimneyville Arts Festival earlier in the month and was immediately taken by her lovingly made, character-infused creations. A whole booth of these animated figures, each one unique, but all united by her humorous house style, is a carnival.  Continue reading