Posies of roses and other allotmenty things

Roses in my garden are so much part of the over all picture that I am reluctant to pick them.  I have planted some Hybrid Musks (Penelope and Buff Beauty) and a couple of Rosa glaucas and a Rosa chinensis mutabilis, a gloriously scented velvety deepest-crimson old shrub (‘Charles de Mills’) some Rugosas and a curious dull copper/orange floribunda called Edith Holden which looks wonderful underplanted with purple sage. 

And there are some showy rosy remnants of the garden that was here before (regretably none of them scented but great ‘doers’), ‘Bonica’, ‘Ferdy’ and dispsite the fact that it eventually succumbs to of black spot, a very prolific ‘Climbing Iceberg’.

On my allotment it is another matter entirely.  I have given a substantial amount of space to a dozen English Roses just for picking.  I planted them in February 2007, with microrrhizal fungi around their roots and they did pretty well even in their first year. 

This year they are covered, I mean absolutely smothered, in flowers. 

I pick basketfuls of them every other day at the moment, even taking stems with half open buds on them since they are generally multi-headed early in the season, and have scented bowls and vases in most of the rooms of the house (pictured above). OK, it’s not as grandiose as it sounds, but it is still a lot of roses! I have even been playing the lady bountiful and given some away – since I simply can’t keep up with them. 

They look particularly winsome with very tradional sprigs of alchemilla stuffed in with them, and also not-so-traditional variegated mint.  The most highly scented are ‘Sweet Juliet’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.  They only last in water for a few days – by which time I have more.

Other things going on on the allotment:  I have eaten my first courgettes and spinach as well as some of the broad beans that were sown in November – these started off very well-behaved and I thought they were going to stand up on their own, but they seemed to have a late rush of blood to the head – so to speak – and are now all at sixes and sevens, but prolific nevertheless.  I will, I will, I will support them with sticks and string next year, like I used to in my old veg garden, or (a tip from a Telegraph reader) with fishing rod supports (?) and bamboo canes.

My first early spuds (Rocket) are flowering and I couldn’t resist ‘raiding the nest’ of one of them and found some lovely little things that went from soil to plate within half an hour.  I now wish I had planted my spuds in  blocks of one variety in my raised bed, rather than rows.  They would be much easier to harvest.  

And I know I am supposed to have the answers not ask the questions… but is it worth shelling out for a wide-tined potato fork?  Does it really make it easier not to stab so many spuds?  Comments welcome. 

I cook my spuds them with some of the aforementioned variegated mint – it tastes similar to the  plain green furry mint (Apple mint), but it is a much more civilized – and attractive – garden (or pot) plant.  I learnt a long time ago that spearmint (the kind that is good for mint tea, mint sauce and tabouleh) is not the one to use when cooking potatoes – it imparts far less flavour than the furry ones, for some reason.

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12 Responses to Posies of roses and other allotmenty things

  1. Zoë says:

    What a great idea to grow roses for cutting on the allotment, I shall nick that one, IF and when I ever get an allotment. Been waiting 4 years so far and still five people ahead of me. Ho Hum.

  2. Niels says:

    I barely grow vegetables anymore in my small allotment garden. Instead I have 400 roses just for cutting. Many Austin do not last as long as other roses in vases, but like you mentioned: there is always more to come. Like you I also rarely pick the roses around my house. I hope you will get your allotment soon Zoë, they have become very popular here too! Lovely posy Helen – I need to get more of those round vases

  3. So jealous. I can’t imagine there being a better life than one where you have roses to spare. I have only just discovered the joy of growing my own flowers. Next year I am going to give up on being a half-hearted, unmotivated vegetable allotment grower, and just do flowers, which get me up at 6am to go and pick. I feel such love for how beautiful they are. I have bought Sarah Raven and I am scheming, long-term. I think this posy has a beautiful simplicity though – she keeps going on about layering flowers of different categories / foliage, and I am quite happy to see one kind of a flower in a vase. Oh my god, I must stop wittering!

  4. Amalee Issa says:

    Roses to spare? Blimey, that really is nirvana. And I love having vases of flowers all over the house too.
    Now about the, “Shall I buy a potato spade?” Helen, if you want to buy a spade that only works a handful of weeks in the year, why not! But it might be a good idea to go to Marks instead and buy some fabulous drawers, cos they work all year round and make you feel fabulous long after the potatoes are harvested…
    I can’t believe I’m writing this on a serious blog.

  5. VP says:

    Definitely go for a potato fork. I found a lovely ancient second hand one at my garden centre and the weight and feel of it is just right. Not one skewered spud last year (when I usually have so many) and much easier on the back too. The soil breaks up much better around the tines too, so you also find many more spuds rather than them becoming next year’s ‘volunteers’.

  6. patientgardener says:

    I too love the idea of growing roses on the allotment. I am about to apply for one but suspect there will be a long waiting list. I use the varigated mint with bunches of flowers as well – it lasts a long time in water

  7. Funny way to spell ‘despite’ — unless you were being frightfully clever in a way that has escaped me. But you know me — the eternal pedant (well, I’ve been correcting your spelling for nearly 40 years!)
    The only roses I have ever planted are Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’ (now, apparently, known as Rosa ‘Geranium’), Rosa xanthina ‘Canary Bird’ and Rosa glauca (much better name than ‘Rubrifolia’). You may deduce a particular leaning in these choices.
    Now, in Thailand, I don’t even try to grow roses, particularly here in hot Bangkok. The roses sold to tourists in the bar areas are totally scent-free and so are sprayed with rose scent before being toted around!

  8. Reimar Engellage says:

    Unfortunate I have to post the bad news that my long year and very close friend Richard G.Z. Zatloukal has past his way on December 29. 2009 after a heart failure.

    If someone is interested in his work, please feel free to take a look at his website: Zatloukal’s Perennials at: http://zats-perennilas.com

    Thank you very much.

  9. Helen says:

    Thanks Reimar. I have written a piece about Richard here today. I hope people will look at his book online.

  10. Reimar Engellage says:

    I’ve to ask for a excuse because I wrote the website URL of Richards website wrong. The right URL is: http://www.zats-perennials.com and the date he past his way were the December 28. 2009 not the 29.

    I had a food poisoning the last few days and were under havy medicine

    Thanks a lot. Reimar

  11. Gracia Hagy says:

    I am continually adding to my gardening info. Thanks for the post!

  12. Suzy says:

    Dear Helen
    I thoroughly enjoyed your original article in the Telegraph about cutting roses in an allotment but have subsequently discovered that I have lost the carefully cut-out piece of newspaper. I wondered if you could possibly let me know your recommendations other than those mentioned in your blog above. I seem to remember that you suggested about half a dozen that were particularly good.
    Many thanks for your help. I look forward to planting your suggestions and reading many more of your articles.
    Suzy Hill

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