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China Girl blog 6th June 2019

The joy of the June garden is not only in the glorious explosion of colour, but also in the air we breathe; it is like happiness, hard to find. Mother feels that when the sun lights up the garden and the evening light dims, it is outside time.

With Rose having left to have her baby and Chris away visiting the Alhambra on holiday, there is much to do. David has finished laying the stone paving slabs, which were left behind last year after the filming of The Voyage of Dr Dolittle. The slabs form a frame around the pond in the olive garden; a new dimension added within the yew hedges surrounding the renovated pool.

This week’s problem was when a few sheep managed to get into the garden. Luckily Ma spotted them and with the help of Billy the dog and myself, we rounded them up before any damage was done. Apart from a blocked drain which was quickly fixed, nothing worse happened!

One of the many interests in growing plants is to know their origins. George Delbard dominated French horticulture in the latter half of the twentieth century, from the remote village in Malicorne in Allier. He built up one of the largest horticultural industries in Europe. Here in 1966, he bred the wonderful single blood-red rose Altissimo. It is Mother’s favourite single red climbing rose growing on the terrace. It brings to mind the lines from Omar Kyham “Never blows so red the rose, as where some buried Caesar bled.”

Another lovely single hybrid tea rose, Mrs Oakley Fisher, this apricot single, bred by Cant in 1921; we grow two in a pot together, it flowers all through the summer and is highly scented. The single American bred, White Wings, with large papery flowers and pronounced chocolate-coloured stamens. We find the rose rather strangley, so we grow them in one hole; it flowers all through the summer, if dead-headed. Together with the ethereal Chinese rose Mutabilis and the amazing single-flowered Coopers Burmese, these make up Mother’s five favourite single-flowered roses.

England, our tiny island with its variable climate, where else do you find on earth, such an abundance of plants from all over the world? They thrive in our land as if in the Garden of Eden.