Rose time is here again and they are looking fabulous. The garden reaches its peak in early June and the recent warm, dry weather has kept the blooms in peak condition and intensified the aromas, resulting in plenty of appreciative oohs and aahs from our visitors this week.
Rosa x alba ‘Alba Semiplena’, the white rose of York, is seen here on the trellis in the nosegay garden. It is the white rose that the Yorkists chose as their badge in the 15 th century. Alba roses are very hardy, vigorous and long-lived, with grey-green leaves and one of the most refined fragrance of any rose. You will need to visit to appreciate the scent of these old roses which, in my opinion, can’t be beaten.
Another good one is the Kazanlik rose (Rosa x damascene var trigintepetala). Damask roses made their way to Europe through the Middle East via Damascus (hence Damask) during the early Middle Ages. They are especially valued for their natural oils which have been used for centuries in the production of Attar of Roses.
I have just started drying rose petals to make our own pot-pourri. This French word, literally translated, means ‘rotten pot’ and for centuries has been a method of preserving dried flower petals, together with herbs, spices, salt and other ingredients in a closed container, leaving them to ferment or ‘rot’. Popular in Tudor times was a moist pot-pourri, rather like a flower pickle, which matures gradually to produce a pungent, distinctive scent, very long lasting and pervasive. The mixture would be left in the jar, occasionally moistened with a little oil or spirit and the lid would be removed when it was necessary to perfume a room and then replaced to contain and preserve the scent. The appearance of the mixture would not be very attractive, as it would be the sad colour of dead leaves and flowers! Far more popular today are the dry potpourri mixtures which are easier to prepare, more adaptable and certainly more colourful in appearance. I will let you know how I get on, with perhaps a recipe or two for you to experiment with at home.
The cut flower patch in the community garden is producing a lovely range of blooms to tempt our visitors who fancy gracing their homes with English country flowers. We have sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus), Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus), marigolds (Calendula officinalis) to name but a few. Only £1.50 and £1 a bunch, they are a real bargain and so much nicer and better for the planet than those shipped in from far flung places.
The flowery mead is also looking flowery, as it always does at this time of year, delighting anyone looking for that idyllic camera shot of meadows from a bygone age. It is a fleeting spectacle of daisies, birds foot trefoil, clover, vetch and the occasional bee orchid, all alive with busy insect life and the perfect wildlife refuge.
Martin Brooks, a local drone enthusiast paid us a visit this week and he took some fantastic pictures of the site for us, including this marvellously detailed one of the walled garden.
What a view of the garden and such a sharp image! Even the lilies in the pond and the daisies in the meadow can be seen. I love the way these arial shots show the symmetry of the walled garden in a way that is often missed from the ground. Just look at the knot garden, looking for all the world like a piece of intricate embroiderie.
Martin also managed to get this one of the community veg plot.
Compare it to the first drone picture before any work had begun on the plot and you can see how much has been achieved. A credit to all the hard working volunteers who have put in so much effort over the past year.
Still on the subject of the community garden we have an update on the potting shed extension. Pete has done an amazing job constructing a strong and great looking structure for us to do all our outside jobs out of the rain! Just the finishing touches to go and we are almost ready to move in.
Finally, a few more pictures for those of you who can’t make it over to Cressing at the moment. I would hate you to miss it just now.