I'm always interested in what people choose to comment on. In a recent post, where I ranged far and wide over topics as diverse as what I ate for lunch and the Yemeni population explosion, several of you picked up on my stymied efforts to order roses from the David Austin website.
For weeks I had pored over my David Austin catalogue, finally settling on a short list: Penelope for the hedge, Malvern Hills to arch above it as a climber, The Generous Gardener as a climber for either side of the porch, Jubilee Celebration for the small bed that I can see from the laundry room, and William Shakespeare for the large "cottage-style" bed at the foot of the garden. As I needed a fairly large quantity of roses, it only made sense to order them off the website; and I will admit to feeling rather pleased with myself as I (more or less) quickly dispatched this task.
But then, to my dismay . . . I received the dreaded email receipt, informing me that my roses would arrive in November. NOVEMBER?? Apparently, I've missed this year's bare root season -- otherwise known as the most economical way to buy roses. A phone call to the David Austin premises in Shropshire yielded even more distressing information. I could buy POTTED roses at twice the price (and packaging), but many of my requests weren't even available.
Sinking heart . . . thwarted gardening ambitions . . . what to do?
Philosophical Question: Is it better to wait for what you really want? Or to compromise, and learn to like something else that you can get immediately?
Sadly, patience is a virtue in short supply around here. Once I had made up my mind, I wanted there to be a very short time gap between ordering these roses and seeing them bloom in my garden. So I decided to shop around. I visited three garden centres and one proper nursery, but didn't manage to procure much. I picked up three Penelopes, but I needed six more. I saw a few less than stellar specimens of William Shakespeare, and a few others of Falstaff -- who closely resembles his maker -- but still felt hesitant. I thought about mixing in some of The Dark Lady, but was put off by her liking for a more mediteranean-type climate. I didn't want my dark lady to languish in this clammy land of the hit-and-miss sun.
Happily, obstinance is a quality that I can summon at will and I refused to be defeated by the slim pickings in West Berkshire. I decided that I wouldn't give up my rose quest without first making the pilgrimage to Burford Garden Company -- garden centre nonpareil.
The fact that Burford is a favorite little village of mine was neither here nor there, of course. About 20 miles west of Oxford, Burford is just on the outer edge of the Cotswolds -- and about an hour's drive from where we live. My family has been going there for more than 10 years, and we have established a ritual something along these lines: feed the ducks on the Windrush river, eat lunch at Huffkins, visit the old-fashioned sweet shop, and perhaps a bit of shopping if the children are willing. Burford is good for country-style clothing, antiques, and the sort of decorative item that no one really needs. (Frankly, it is probably only the tourists who shop there.) We go to Burford to soak up the atmosphere -- the steep streets, the ancient leaning stone buildings, the glimpses of beautiful private gardens. Burford looks the way that England is supposed to look, and I suppose that I'm still susceptible to that kind of charm.
Here is a glimpse into my modus operandi: Not wanting to plant-shop on an empty stomach, I decided to visit Huffkins for some fortification. Not having brought something to read, I decided to make a quick detour to the Red Lion Bookshop. (I don't mind eating alone, but only if I have reading material!) Not having enough cash to buy a book and lunch, I decided to get three books -- you know, in order to justify putting it on the credit card. Also, I always like to support an independent bookshop. By the by, isn't it lovely when self-interest and altruism have a common goal?
Since I was in a quintessential English town, I decided to match subject to environment: and thus departed with The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth by Frances Wilson, Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes, and The Bolter by Frances Osborne. I dipped into The Bolter during lunch, and it is delicious, gossipy stuff. Licentious English aristocrats running amok. Thank goodness I am nearly finished with my long liason with Atwood, because I'm ready for a quick fling.
My justification is this: Even if I didn't find my roses, at least I didn't waste my day, right?
But as luck and Ethel Merman would have it, "Everything's coming up roses . . ."
I actually managed to find ALL of the roses I wanted at the Burford Garden Company. I suppose that's why, if you believe your Wikipedia, all of the *stars* shop there.
Once again, that vital combination of impatience and persistence has been rewarded. Nor was I put off by the bad weather . . . so determined was I to get my roses into the ground where they could really start flourishing.
Now does anyone have any tips for getting roses to grow faster?