Friday, 25 May 2012

Hurry The Rose - Seven Days

It won't last long but it's going to be wonderful, more wonderful than you can even imagine.It will transport you, it will pierce your heart, you will never forget the happiness and the pleasure.

The lovely luxury of anticipation of future joy does not come easily to those of us who prefer the safe-guards of pessimism.  But looking forward to something surely ought to be easy and frequent as it was, if you remember, when we were children and thought happiness was there for the grabbing.

Here's one that works for gardening adults, if they have the nous to allow it to themselves.  Not the true roses of summer; but the earliest roses of spring.  I'm already a little behindhand with this, so we're probably talking about next year, unless you're somewhere very cold.  And I do not have a comprehensive knowledge of them either; just a taste, of  a refined but true pleasure, limited but exquisite - you know, something you can congratulate yourself about.  And the pleasure in that is not to be underestimated.

Delicacy of flower and foliage is their hallmark.  Their moment is early May, with the fading tulips.  Small and often single, the flowers are scattered butterflies.  Sad to say, we left England too quickly for a full range; here we are in Italy amongst the full blowsy swing of glorious massed summer roses, set to flower till vanquished by the heat.

So my photographs are few, my anticipation has had no proper end this year.  But let's run through the ones I know best anyway, starting with Frulingsgold.


Long sensuous buds, the very heart of anticipation, for the translucent flowers are less shapely than one might imagine.  Of Frulingsmorgen, from the same stable, the reverse is true, the flowers beat the buds, the pink of sunrise, a warm cream heart, dark red stamens.  They open wide, too innocent to bear.

Then there's the famous rosa banksiae lutea, an absolute souffle' of a plant, but one can have too much souffle';  by June it's all over, major confusing pruning is required, the pale yellow storm breaks and recedes in a further wave of bright, pale foliage.  Easy to drown a shed or small house.  Over the years the one on my wall became more and more difficult to control.  Then I realised people only saw it if I specifically forced their gaze upwards, they were too close to appreciate a really high climber.  I declared defeat - these two are at the Savill Garden, they're either young or unbelievably well-managed.


Pompom de Paris is a favourite.  Scentless, tiny-leaved.  This one is small, for I dug it up last year ready to replant after building over its home.  Normally about 4 or 5 feet tall, 3 weeks of prettiness and personality - no-one ignores it, for it's sweeter than a rose has any right to be.

The China rose family offers many that open early and never close, till winter hits them on the head.  Here's one that offers itself only in Spring, to my knowledge, though it may behave differently elsewhere, as we all do.  I firmly believe it to be Sanguinea.  Floppy butterflies these, and the bush flutters with their brave red wings from every joint.  Three weeks only of tubercular fluttering, then they sink away, the whole plant disappearing into the background.

And here's the standard bearer for spring roses - Canary Bird.  Just to prove my point about the tulips.

I'm a bit surprised to remember that few of these roses have sensible hips but at least it means that they can leave fewer traces than most eagerly awaited events - their detritus can be pruned right back after flowering; the dirty crockery washed and put away.  Their moment has gone - all that looking foward, all that longing and waiting, all dropping and receding; the swell and the urge fading away; nothing left.

The song Seven Days now - I hope you've been longing and waiting for it too.  It's one exultant shout of anticipation.  It's on The Bootleg Series, Vols 1 - 3.  Dylan hurls himself into it, ullulating ( at last the chance to use that word) with excitement.  Again, it seems simple, seven days to wait before she arrives (on a train) and he'll be with her again.  Surely the song's about some sort of love?

I chose it for the spring roses, because that's what they're all about too - they're going to be so beautiful, I'm going to love them so much, quick, quick, check the buds every day, hoping for soon, hoping for more.  But the song examines that state of anticipation for us, appearing to be swept away but actually pulling it apart. 

We're straining forward, every nerve tense, how can we possibly be satisfied?  So focused, so lost to sense are we.  The protagonist invokes a potent memory of childhood anticipation, not defining it. Somehow it dissolves into adult romantic love - we can see they can be similar emotions.  All regular life, fighting and striving, boredom, feigning affection and loneliness - all those things are overwhelmed by  the fierce and triumphant cry of "Seven days". 

So connected to his inner child is he that he insists that he's been good while he's been waiting.  And as for the vaguely Guevaran touch of the "beautiful comrade from the north" that's not so much child-like as Utopian. The same wild innocence perhaps.  Hope and experience; muddling along together, thieving and kissing in the alley.  I love the song, though it has little purchase.  It seems thrown together but give it a chance - you may find it stays longer than expected, revealing unanticipated layers.

And try the roses too, if you have space, for you will be rewarded however badly you've behaved.  You'll steal a march on the bigger, blowsier roses, and you'll be satisfied, not fully, not for the whole season, but you'll have your own special graces and wild charms.  I leave you with a last suggestion - Rosa wilmottiae.  I only saw it once many years ago at Saling Hall I think.  Tiny leaves, the dancer's pose, masses of tiny flowers, sparkle, sparkle.  Perhaps my remembering imagination can enliven an imagined future for someone.  I certainly plan to have another go. 

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