‘Roses at their peak’ is one of the notes I write in my diary every year – but never quite as early as this.12 months ago we were actually anxious about them: our daughter was getting married and roses were the main theme of the party décor. They peaked on cue: June 26th, while this year the entry went in on June 2nd.
The ‘peak’ is a pretty artificial concept; to me it means the moment just before we have to start dead-heading the bush-roses, when the major climbers are just revealing how far they have scrambled with outbreaks of colour high in the trees. You can see and smell the flowers on a bush more easily, but the ultimate rose picture is one of swags and flying sprays
far out of reach, sending down showers of perfume and petals as you stand wondering below.
The peak of the garden here, its most thrilling spot, has migrated from the concentration of its walled centre, where roses make a patchwork with a score of other flowers; alliums and thalictrums, campanulas and day lilies, Aruncus and poppies and delphiniums, to a secret corner of the wood. Standing there, bathed in sweet perfume, I look up through an arch of a ‘Felicia’, never pruned and stooping from 12 feet or so, mingling with ‘Natchez’, a tousle-flowered philadelphus. The grey/pink Rosa glauca has somehow infiltrated above head height, carrying my eyes up to ‘Wedding Day’, ascending in plateaux and glacis of cream and white through a pear tree into the flowering branches of an acacia.
Most soul-melting of all, though, glimpsed through the flanking bushes, are the apricot-fleshy-white flowers of ‘Treasure Trove’ surging over a little bower of the purple clematis ‘President’. This is Eden, and words cannot express its beauty.