Confessions of a Rose-aholic

 The amazing English rose, Evelyn, developed for Crabtree and Evelyn by David Austin.

The amazing English rose, Evelyn, developed for Crabtree and Evelyn by David Austin.

It started innocently enough. A harmless flirtation with Abraham Darby, which led to a dalliance with Sexy Rexy. Then I moved on to Just Joey. Before long, I succumbed to the charms of Graham Thomas and Jude the Obscure. The first glimmerings of panic surfaced.

 “It’s okay,” I told myself, “I can stop any time.”

 The most fragrant rose -- Gertrude Jekyll.

The most fragrant rose -- Gertrude Jekyll.

But, on my very next trip to the garden center, I was seduced by the beauty of Harlow, then the intoxicating fragrance of Gertrude Jekyll captured my heart. I had to have them.

 “This is really it. Now you are done,” I told myself sternly.

A few days later, I caught sight of Evelyn and I was undone. Like the song says: “Just one look, was all it took.” I leaned in for a closer look and I was lost. She smelled like ripe peaches and cream.

 I had to admit the truth: I was addicted to roses. Not just the sturdy, tough roses I considered worthy, like rugosa and species roses. No, it was the sweet hybrid teas, the flashy floribundas and, most of all, the spectacular English roses of David Austin I lusted after.

 Easy Does It goes from hot orange to the colour of a summer sunset.

Easy Does It goes from hot orange to the colour of a summer sunset.

“How did this happen,” I marvelled. I’d always been so level headed where roses were concerned, able to cruise right by them at a nursery without a glance.

I quickly filled every available space in my garden plot with roses and then potted them in containers. I pushed my guilt aside and looked for every opportunity to design rose gardens for my clients, even when they knew nothing about the care, feeding and pruning of these divas of the plant world. And, as we know, the average maintenance gardener for hire doesn’t have a clue how to take care of roses.

Then, Evelyn died. Always weak and sickly, she failed to rally after a first, amazing flush of blossoms early this year. I tried everything to save her, but, in the end, she succumbed to a host of pests and disease. And broke my heart.

For a while, I kept busy designing and installing drought tolerant Mediterranean style gardens and ornamental grass and herb borders. Gradually, the pain subsided. And so did my cravings. I entered a kind of rose withdrawal.

“I'm over the worst of it, thank goodness,” I thought, with a sigh of regret tinged relief.

Until the other day, when I was looking for astilbes at the nursery and stumbled upon Angel Face in full bloom. Familiar feelings stirred and I could hear the music begin, all over again…

  A raspberry sorbet confection, in ruffled petticoats, Angel Face lives up to her name.

 A raspberry sorbet confection, in ruffled petticoats, Angel Face lives up to her name.