White Rose
Beacon Hill Park, Victoria BC

White Roses 4
After a rain in Government House Gardens, Victoria BC

Victoria is a city of roses; they must love the acid and sometimes clay soil, the sea breezes, the winter rains. They grow in gardens along the sea and the salt spray doesn't deter them. You will find rose gardens in the public gardens like Government House Gardens and Beacon Hill Park. There are 2,000 rose bushes in Butchart Gardens, north of Victoria (Greater Victoria). The Empress, the landmark Hotel in the Inner Harbour has a beautiful rose garden between the Empress and the Provincial Bus Depot.

As a young artist I thought roses were clichés, overdone, the rose design overused. But when I had a large garden of my own where I inherited 20 rose bushes, their colours and fragrance cast a spell on me. I bought my first rose, a David Austen "Gertrude Jeckyll" fragrant pink rose. That was it, I was hooked on roses. At first I was daunted by the task of caring for 20 rose bushes because i had heard they couldn't survive without 3 major chemical products against blackspot, blight, aphids etc. After talking with a friend whose father had grown roses for 30 years I was more encouraged. She said that all he ever used was a few drops of detergent in water to spray away the aphids in the Spring and epsom salts (magnesium) on the soil around the bushes once a year. The pruning I learned from a horticulturist at Government House Gardens. Strip the leaves in the fall and prune severely in the early spring.

Gertrude Jekyll Rose
Gertrude Jekyll Rose, on my balcony

At the end of this diary are a dozen roses of the basic colours. There are also the coral roses, the pale pinks, the two-toned roses, so these are only a few of the available colors. Butchart Gardens has 2,000 rose bushes in their collection so for those who love roses, it is overwhelming. While I was photographing these, a lady came up to me and pointed down the other side of the pathway, "it's the most beautiful red rose you will ever see, be sure not to miss it." My head was spining by then because I was taking pictures of the signs beside each rose and had already 100 shots. This might be the one she was so excited about.

"Pride of England" England 1998, Butchart Gardens

The rose has been a frequent or pervasive symbol in world poetry from "la rosa sempiterna" of Dante to Eliot's "burnt roses" in "Little Gidding." Indeed, as the semiotician (and rose novelist!), Umberto Eco noted: "the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meaning that by now it hardly has any meaning left: Dante's mystic rose, and go lively rose, the Wars of theRoses, rose thou are sick, to many rings around the rosie, a rose by any other name, a rose is a rose is a rose, theRosicrucians." (Reflections on the Name of the Rose, London, 1983.p 3)
A literature database (LION) contains the texts of 1161 poems on roses. Among these are works by Black, both Brownings, Burns, Clare, Coleridge, Cwper, Dickinson, Dunbar, Gay, Herbert, Herrick, Keats, Landor, […] More recent authors who have used the rose theme include Kenneth Patchen, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, and Tennesee Williams.
UC Santa Cruz Library

"Heirloom" USA 1972
"Heirloom" USA 1972
"Sweetness" USA 2009
"Melody Perfumee" USA 1999
"Alexander" England 1972
"Rosemary Harkness" England 1985
"Canadian Sunset" USA 1995
"Jolly" Holland 1934
"Touch of Class" France 1986
"Las Vegas" Germany 1981

"Peace" France 1945
"Lions International" England 1998
"Mellow Yellow" USA 2000
Butchart Gardens in June
Butchart Gardens in June

Originally posted to DK GreenRoots on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Photography, DFH writers group, and Canadian Kossacks.

Your Email has been sent.