A rose by any other name (label)

This has been a very busy week, so Friday came and went without a blog post. But today is gloriously “miserable” weather - rain, rain, cloud and rain - so whilst the garden is being watered, the tanks are being filled and the kids and I are leaning heavily into a pyjama/craft/reading fest, what better opportunity to pop in here and have a chat.

Part of the reason I’ve been so busy is because, this summer, I started assisting at Bee School through Canberra Bees. I’ve been helping prep tools and materials, teaching basic skills like lighting smokers, and helping students at the hives to identify all the key features of a beehive. It’s such a thrill to be able to introduce people to the wonderful world of beekeeping and, happily, I’m going to be continuing on in this role next season too. There are lots of plans in the works for Canberra Bees over the next year, so stay tuned!

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Not a lot of gardening has happened in between the busy school/work week and the maddeningly hot days. This time of year is my least favourite, but in an effort to celebrate the seasons (even the ickiest, last bits of summer), I’ve been trying to make the most of what is on offer. And the best thing on offer in our garden right now is the roses!

We are starting from scratch with roses, entirely unsurprisingly. Losing some of the ones I’d made an effort to track down and order many years ago was a bit rough. The saddest losses were definitely our three Souvenir de la Malmaison (my absolute favourite, the gateway rose to my burgeoning addiction), and a delightfully subtle Shropshire Lass. But we did have a sole survivor in the form of a David Austin Strawberry Hills which gave us bunches and bunches of roses right around Christmas!

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I wasn’t able to put in an order with a specialist rose supplier this year, but we picked up some potted plants at the nursery in December. Because the choices were very limited at that time of year, it forced me to expand my usual preferred garden colour palette (white/purple/pink) to colours I would once have considered much too garish. And aren’t I pleased we had no choice?!!? Suddenly none of the shades of apricot are “over-the-top”, but an utter delight to see in the garden in the form of two very fine gentlemen, Pat Austin and Graham Thomas. These tiny rose bushes have been surprisingly floriferous in the heat, and have totally won my heart. But in the hubbub since we planted them, I still hadn’t gotten around to marking them and removing their plastic labels until the other day.

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I don’t particularly mind leaving plastic nursery labels on a plant, despite the fact that I know it is considered to be the ultimate sin in a fancy garden. I don’t love them - they are big and unattractive, and they tend to fly off in strong winds - but they serve their purpose. I am always desperate to know what a plant is, so any label in a good label in that sense. But a couple of years ago I wrote a piece for (the now defunct) Slow Living magazine about last minute Christmas gifts for gardeners, including these gorgeous glass and copper hanging plant markers. I had bought a number of them (just doing thorough research, of course!), but hadn’t gotten around to hanging them. I’m grateful for my inaction now because they would have been destroyed in the fire… a win for laziness! This past week, I finally started using them to label our new roses and they look lovely. They are very lightweight but the glass tube is strong, and they are just so much nicer than the plastic labels. Of course there are so many other ways to label plants, but if little pretty things make you happy, these are just perfect.

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