Rose Articles

In the Realm of the Rose

By Terri Clark

Trade SecretsI am just returned from a month’s sojourn in the eastern United States, specifically Connecticut. I go at this time of year to attend what I think is one of the best and most elegant garden shows called Trade Secrets. It hammers home the notion that people in great numbers do not need beguiling or begging to take part in exhibits and displays that are simple, beautiful, and educational with a big retail component.

What really struck me was how so many venerable and distinguished east coast vendors and garden designers were “in the know” about Vancouver’s upcoming World Rose Festival set to be launched June 19th and continuing through the 21st. Many could regrettably not mount retail displays in Vancouver due to their busiest times of the year on another coast, but they were impressed with the line-up of exhibits, speakers and retail opportunities.

One of the most congenial people you’d ever want to meet is renowned Connecticut potter Guy Wolff who, knowing I was from Vancouver from previous visits to his workshop, sought me out to ask about the Vancouver World Rose Festival. I gave him all the goods on what I knew and it was easy to see his enthusiasm for such a well-planned event.

Vita Sackville WestUpon our return to my own garden late June 1st, I could tell by scent alone that it had entered the realm of the rose. This phrase was coined by the indomitable Vita Sackville West, who among a host of other things horticultural, literal and to say the least interesting, wrote numerous garden columns for newspapers in Great Britain before, during and after World War II. There was no one quite like Vita for expressing a plant’s attributes or lack thereof with such surgical precision while taking no prisoners. But when it came to roses, and I mean especially the old world charmers like the gallicas, albas and musks, Ms. Sackville’s wry wit was tamed and her descriptive powers sounded more like romantic swoons than a dry weekly report.

If you are a keen gardener and have been to Britain, you will probably have visited Vita’s magnificent Sissinghurst Castle Garden, now operated by the National Trust. She lived and gardened there until her death in the early 1960s. I remember reading that on the last day of her life she asked to be lifted and taken to sit in her garden. She died there. I only hope that her beloved paradise, created from a previous blackberry strewn acreage, was in the realm of the rose or at least that she had entered it when she took her leave.

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