Who? I hear you ask. Rosa who? Well! long ago a young girl of ample beauty and great wit became to love of a Royal Kings life. Her name was Jane Clifford and one of my ancestors way back in time . I have been really interested in her since my time in research at University aged 18.
Toady ,in my gardens ,old roses grow and among the many is a little deep pink stripped with white flowering rose shrub called Rosa Mundi. A Gallica sport of the ancient Apotheric rose Officialis. Is known to have been grown in London Medical gardens in 12th Century. They used its petals in medical cures and to decorate cakes . Roses are in fact related to garden herbs. Monks used rose petals in wine and on salad trays.
Rosa Mundi shrub flowers her heart out in June and first week of July only. So for almost five weeks why grow it some have asked me. Well! for the sheer joy of its presence .It great scent and its ability to thrill me every summer. Then that fact that it was used to decorate the tomb of dear lovely Jane by her lover King Henry 11 of England. He was married to an older lady called Ellenor of Aquitaine in France. It was an arranged marriage and Henry had her great fortunes as compensation. There was little love between them but managed to breed sons. Famous Geoffrey .Richard the Lion Hearted and John Lackland the weakest and youngest son. To hide away Jane who all courtiers called the Fair Rosemund of historic times owing to her bright eyes and beauty of face. Henry built her a bower as a labyrinth so complex that only he knew the way in and out. He made sure he hunted in the area often.
Over time his wildly wife followed him to the bower. She is said to have tied a silk thread to his shoe and after she stood on it as he walked to his held horse and galloped of home. She picked up the thread found Jane and killed her. Henry on hearing the news galloped all the way back to find his dead lover laying on the ground inside her house in the labyrinth. He built her a marble tomb and decorated it all himself with rose petals from this said rose. It was in life her favourite and perhaps why I grow it too.
Rosa Mundi in full glory 4feet high and wide a no trouble favorite of many gardeners.
He jailed his wife and Queen for this as she was in fact plotting against him using his sons to thwart his progress.
He only allowed her out at Christmas time then back in her castle home under close arrest. As I said no real love existed between them. A love hate situation
The Cliffords a Northern family wrote more than a page in England book of fame . Henry 11 upset the whole nation when his drinking friend who was pushed into the Church as a job away from his King suddenly found God and was murdered by Sir Hugh De Morvile a Knight who lived at Moreland in Cumbria and three others as he knelt in prayer sliced off the top of his scull in Canterbury cathedral .Henry was so angered he made himself a target to be whipped by all monks and Churchmen of the City. The result killed him later.
Sad story but so very true his love was murdered, his best closest friend killed and his wife dancing for joy at his down fall. Henry and his family have been the subject of many books movies and poems over the centuries but Henry had bad press in many phases of his life. Not a good father and was roughly made and strong . He fought all and even his sons in wrestling which they seemed to hate.
On Henrys death in France his son Richard came and took the Royal ring of England off his fathers finger and spat on his fathers face. Yet next to him Richard and all the family save for King John who is buried in Worcester Cathedral England, lay. The Chinon graves of Kings I have seen many times on trips to that haughty haunting castle above the streets, of Chinon le Loire , that Henry once looked over knowing he had been made King Of England.
If all that is left of this period in the march of time since is Rosa Mundi Gallica shrub then I grow it for love for in truth I came from the same Grandfather as of Henry.
Old garden roses make a magical sight in Early to late June for about 5 weeks of pure scented heaven. Alba Maxima ,the Jacobite rose 1340. Md Legrass de Germain are strongest scent in all roses across the full range of modern to ancient. Another is the Centifolia rose Fantin Latour by Tamm of France 1938 .
Terese Bugnet Rose is perhaps the hardiest all summer flowering hedge I have. Some 80 foot of it runs the sun border from main gates to Mermaid fountain.
Paul Noel a strawberry pink scented repeat flowering climber is on a tall metal oblisk and yet to suffer winter here so jury is out as yet. My Canadian Explorer roses laugh at winter the huntsman of deathly breath who cracks that cruel whip of ice across the gentle earth and all bow before him. Not so my hardy Canadians who flower into January and only rest then. Good scent but not great as in the oldest roses in history. I only wish i could grow Burbons but cant have everything can we; as then no adventure left.
Gardening is an education in its own perfect way. For me a life saver in retirement and it feeds the very soul in me with deep peace and love for plants . When the roof goes on my folly room and I can decorate inside of it I can take a rest when working on my borders new. As the plan takes in another two acres to its natural ending. So lots to do and time precious.
When I touch and smell that sweet intoxicating scents of ancient rose blooms my mind takes in the very fact that here Kings have seen as I do. Touched as I have, the flowers of old roses I grow . Time standing still, across the edge of centuries. It thrills me to think how many have loved this rose. Tall stately and wall like are most and thankful am I someone, someplace, helped to keep them over 1000 years save from wars, rage,riot and evil stupidity. Roses come with history and stories worth reading .They connect the pages across time in fact.
Now garden centres sell only the fashionable Hybrid repeat or constant flowering roses .Many have no scent Those that have is doubtful .Once you have scented a rose of antiquity then for all time you will be captivated by that smell so strong in my gardens it can travel into the house some way off across a field of gardens. I notice cars that slow down windows open in summertime that sniff the road hedges trying to locate the pungent aromatic scents and never can find what they cannot see. For five whole weeks this magical part of gardens is a walk way for all who come to see me . It is really the summer and scents and bees and birdsong all gather to worship the vista of old roses in tumbling flowers and soft silk colours with accent here and there of darkest red makes the walk unique perhaps. Beyond the gate is no mans land untamed and jungle until lake goes in and more gardens built as rooms as summer comes again to me to build my dreams
Maybe another letter from Latvia as did not wish to let my readers down had no time to create anything this month. So my talk is on roses and gardens as that is my love. One hopes it reaches you with interest my dears.
Yours Sir K.
Copyright 2020 November Kevin Parr Bt