This is my first real season of roses.
How the heck a plant so prickly (yes, roses have prickles, not thorns) can be so delicious to a wallaby is incomprehensible. But it's almost a year to the day since the wallaby-proof fence started to work and the garden began to recover.
Plants grew, but also I stopped chasing Ms Wallaby and now she's fairly tame (for a wild creature), freezing on the spot if we leave the garden for, say, the carport, and only reluctantly moving off if we get too close, or we're near her for too long. We see her nearly every day - a great pleasure - and watch her joeys grow each year. (One acre - counting orchard, chickens and edible patch too - for us, and a dozen acres (and 2 dams) for her and her joeys sounds fair to me.)
Just now the garden is filled with iris - about 6 kinds - and the first roses are peeping out. (Iris are a great floral baton between the tulips and daffodils, and the first roses.) Now I've bravely, or foolishly, taken off safety netting from all the garden plants leaving only a few upturned hanging basket frames - which don't look too bad - over little treasures.
I didn't plant roses until I was in my 40's and while I enjoyed the effect of cool yellow roses with deep blue Siberian iris last year, somehow this year my heart leapt higher with the first bloom of so-called `Princess Anne' (above), with colour calling out from across the garden. Whatever she really is, she's a stronger pink than she's meant to be, which means she will contrast too strongly with `Wisley' (top) and similarly pale `Souvenir de la Malmaison' (the latter named in 1844 for the home of the Empress Josephine - the "Godmother of modern rosomaniacs") in front of her - but this rose is more interesting, and the effect is glorious. Maybe I just prefer pink.
But - I'm still enjoying my new yellow roses (`Graham Thomas', below, fading from its gold buds), or near yellows (`Teasing Georgia' (above) - my notes say `amazing scent'; the flowers are often more yellow; is this due to soil type?) in or near the sun and sky bed.
Importantly, they are shrub roses - no lollipops in this garden (although real, huge lollipops would be fun) (even if I wanted shrub lollipops, I wouldn't introduce them: J is depressed enough right now seeing my `Tiny Trev' lilly pillies trimmed into - close to - spheres; too formal for him, but with structure I like, that the billowing garden really needs; I tell him, consolingly, that they'll never look perfect); shrub roses that mingle nicely with iris, tulips, cranesbills. It's an English garden I guess - with the influence of my British (gardener and botanist) mother - perhaps. (An artist friend calls it a storybook garden. Her delicious garden is a tapestry garden.)
So it's my first real season of roses - with new blooms every day I am like a girl looking at Christmas presents piling up under the tree.
I love seeing roses from the house, I like anticipating their perfume (almost all are David Austin roses), each so different, and I'm holding my breath waiting for my first proper rose season as the bushes are growing and producing buds in profusion for the first time. What is it about roses that makes them so special?
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (www.jillweatherheadgardendesign.com.au)