Roses, for me, have always exhibited the floral heights of beauty and exhuberance, combined into that old-fashioned quality that used to be revered as elegance. I had several straggly rosebushes at my old house, grown in a tiny area that got the most amount of sun; one, Bill Warriner, did reasonably well, but they were never a particular success story. I may someday return to rose gardening, but for now, I have something even better: my next door neighbor's rose garden.
Instructions for designing gardens often include a section on “borrowing” trees, views and the like that are outside one's property lines but nevertheless in view. I'm particularly fortunate, in that there are beautiful gardens on both sides of me, though one is mostly shrouded by shrubs. The other, however, is fully open to my view, and thus I'm treated to my neighbor's glorious roses.
One of the reasons I particularly enjoy this garden is because though I admire it tremendously, it is one I'll never have: it is laid out in an orderly, traditional pattern, narrow, rectangular strips which form a central diamond bound with beds edging the property upon a lush green (and yes, weedfree) lawn. The perfect grass acts as a setting for T's equally carefully tended roses: —if a leaf has the tiniest bit of black spot on it, off it comes. If a plant is sickly, out it goes. (This sort of attention, is of course, what all the manuals tell you do, even if you don't grow roses.)
Compared to the weeds that choke my beds as I wallow in indecision, wondering whether they're something I might've wanted even if I didn't plant them, the groundhog chewed plants, the endless buried concrete and trash— the sheer mess, T's garden seems perfect and serene. I know this is an illusion, because we squealed as picked inchworms out the buds out of one bush (tweezers for lampworking are ideal for this task, btw) , and I have heard complaints about aphids and blackspot and sickly plants.
But I maintain that gardens are a creative endeavor, and they cannot help illuminating the gardeners who create and tend them; and thus the passion, precision and beauty of this garden reflects, a little, of a person I feel very privileged to know.
This is a climbing rose, paired with a rhododendron, both in bloom. It is at the rear of the property, adjacent to us: I should note, the two back yards together form a sort of bowl of high-sun, surrounded by trees and shrubs to the rear of us, and too our off-sides; thus the roses look particularly good, as they aim for that most amount of sun, which more or less is the property line. Shot 31may.
I love the delicate pale pink of this old-fashioned (to me) looking rose, though to show off the delicacy of the bloom's color, the background became very dark.
This shrub (and stump) are legacies of former owners, and though the shrub is fantastically cold hardy, it is very prone to inchworms. But even with their depradations, she (T calls all the roses by the feminine pronoun) still puts on a very nice display.
The last of the early shots. I attempted photographing this garden on several different days: the first time, just after it rained, and this glorious golden afternoon sun lit it. Alas, that was before I discovered I needed to reduce the light by 0.7ev or so, and only one shot, the very first one, came out. The remainder of these early pix were taken a day later, on 01jun.
As it happens, my neighbor asked me for copies of the pictures, should any come out (always a concern); this page is the answer to her request. I hope she likes them. While I was taking this second batch of images she was (I understand) taking an absolutely grueling professional exam; and if this page can lay any claim to capturing the beauty of her garden, let it be also my best wishes for her success, in this endeavor and others.
file created 11jun06; additional editing, 12jun.
Unless otherwise noted, text, image and objects depicted therein copyright 1996--present sylvus tarn.Sylvus Tarn