Sunlight Lomantica

A lovely yellow floribunda rose is growing in a large pot on my patio. It’s called Sunlight Romantica, a floribunda from the house of Meilland in France. Meilland’s Romantica roses are considered France’s answer to the old English rose, and supposedly blooms better in hot weather than the English David Austin varieties. Makes sense, I guess.

Sunlight Romantica has a gorgeous old-rose style bloom and a heady old-rose scent, which is why I bought it. Roses are fussy prissy things and I normally wouldn’t bother with them, but this one smells heavenly, and blooms continuously. It does have a little bit of black spot but in spite of the cold rainy weather we’ve experienced lately, the plant seems to be fending off serious infection without chemical assistance.

What’s more, this is a rose that has inspired a Japanese man to break into song and post it on You Tube. A German song.

Awesome.

A rose by any other name….

I’ve received a lot of very nice email about my Remembrance Day blog entry, and have even heard a rumour that it was extensively quoted in a sermon at an Ottawa church last Sunday. It would be even more exciting if I’d have earned a mention for my naughty behaviour, but no matter, I am honoured and grateful.

On that note, I was trolling the web today and came across some intriguing material about roses. Without being aware of it, my choice of a red and a white rose to mark the occasion was strangely appropriate; could I have tapped into some kind of floral symbolism from the collective unconscious?

The red rose whispers of passion,

And the white rose breathes of love;

O, the red rose is a falcon,

And the white rose is a dove.
~John Boyle O’Reilly

Roses, roses, can’t get enough of those bloody roses. …There is no better allegory for, dare I say it, life, than roses."
~Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead


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Race for the True Blue Rose

Roses.are.Blue14 years of research.

27.8 million dollars

A cure for AIDS? Sub-Saharan diseases? Nope. We’re talking about a brewery. A japanese brewery, Suntory, who — according to their Web site — ‘…is Japan’s leading producer and distributor of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. We are also involved in pharmaceuticals, restaurant operation, sports, music and film, resort development, publishing, and information services.’

Oh yeah, and roses. Blue roses.

According to the Web site, Rugged Elegant Living (‘Your Guide to Healthy, Adventuresome, Soulful Living!’ — through genetic manipulation?), Suntory has been working on this project with Australian biotec venture Calgene Pacific since 1990. On July 5, 2004 they announced:

Suntory successfully created the blue rose by implanting the gene that leads to the synthesis of blue pigment in pansies. The color of the new rose comes entirely from the pigment Delphinidin, which does not exist in natural roses. …There are “bluish” roses on the market created through cross-breeding but the Sunroy rose is the first reported genuine blue rose.

Why would a brewer put all this effort into a developing a blue rose?

As a company in the food industry, we have developed businesses to enrich people’s lives. We have continued research and development activities for our flower operations because flowers adds flavors to people’s lives and help sustain spiritual health.

The flowers are expected to be available for purchase in 2007 or 2008.

Do gooders, my ass. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the estimated $64 million US share of the market annually that the elusive “blue” rose is expected to capture.

As though this story weren’t bizarre enough, Britain’s news giant The Telegraph announced back in late May that two biochemists conducting research into drugs for cancer and Alzheimer’s in Tennessee discovered a liver enzyme that, when moved into a bacterium, would turn it blue.

Professor Peter Guengerich and Dr Elizabeth Gillam, part of a cabal of scientists heroically participating in the single-minded quest for a cure to the 20th century plague, had this to say:

We were aware that there were people in the world who had been interested in making coloured flowers, especially a blue rose, for a number of years.

Dr Gillam had the bright idea that we could capitalise on our discovery by moving the gene into plants – and produce a blue rose.

I suppose you can’t separate the spiritual from the physical when it comes to good health. I think they all deserve a medal.

Regency Life and a Rose Garden

Christmas at my house is the season of Jane Austen, and repeated showings of all five tapes of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. This year we watched the entire series twice, augmented with an airing of “Sense and Sensibility”. I then plowed through the novel “Persuasion”, and yep, tonight I just finished reading “Pride and Prejudice”. It’s an odd tradition for the Christmas season, I suppose. I can’t explain the attraction, though Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy does speak for itself.

Curious about the cause of Jane Austen’s early death at 41, I did a little searching on the internet. I came across a site that is loaded with interesting background information on Regency life, including biographical details of JA’s life. Check out the page on Regency Rose Gardens.

While you’re there, don’t miss the page on “a History of Pain”, and the story about the tough soldier who was annoyed by the screams of the fellow in the next bed, “so much so, that as soon as his arm was amputated, he struck the Frenchman a smart blow across the breech with the severed limb, holding it at the wrist, saying, ‘Here, take that, and stuff it down your throat, and stop your damned bellowing!’ “

A new balcony and a pesky raccoon

Catch up time, it’s been a while since I last posted.

Lots of news. Over the weekend our fantastic landlord and his uncle finished off the roof on the deck. When I first heard of the roof idea, I wasn’t too pleased — I imagined that would be the end of growing vegetables, since the sun would be cut off. Fortunately, “Uncle” is an avid gardener too. They put up clear plexiglass panels, and as Uncle explained, the light will come through, but the worst of the UV rays and any frost would be warded off (not to mention the rain). I was completely won over as I barbequed chicken on the deck tonight, and listened to the rain pelt the roof over my head. Such a comforting sound, and air smelled clean and sweet (well, except for the smoke from my chicken leg flambe).

Uncle shared more of his hard-won garden wisdom. Together we inspected my fledgling vegetable crop, and in very broken English, he explained that rather than cut off the entire head of lettuce for a salad, I could simply pick off the leaves as I needed them. The plant will continue to grow. Why didn’t I think of that?? He also explained how to propagate rose bushes, and made it sound very easy. He told me to break (not cut) a good sized branch, plunge 3/4 of it into soil, and by spring the new plant would be rooted and budding. Easier said than done, I think.

I may be giving it a try, in any event. On Sunday we took a hike up Walker’s Line, and dropped into a very old graveyard near the trail head. In years past the blooms on a magnificent old rose have always caught my eye…double pink blooms and very fragant, and huge. Over the years the bush, which was probably originally planted on a grave, has taken over an entire section of the graveyard and has reseeded freely in a neighbouring meadow. I figured if I could find the original grave marker, I would learn approximately how old the rose really was. It took some courage, more than a few scratches, and some determined rooting to find it — an old white stone marker buried deep in the rose bush, dated 1895. I dug up a couple of seedlings and hope that I can get them to grow on my deck garden, at least for a while.

Yesterday was a warm day, and with the deck finally finished (and a whopping hydro bill waiting to be paid), I decided it was time to move all my orchids and indoor plants outside, and turn off the 1000W grow light and humidifier. It took hours of work to arrange everything to my liking, and to clean up the mess left over in the grow room. By late evening I was very satisfied with my efforts, and dragged Laird outside to admire the new decor.

Alas, I’m off to a bad start. Mr. Racoon paid an inspection visit last night, and apparently didn’t like what he saw. He knocked pots off shelves, dug plants out of pots and flung them around the deck, tromped carelessly in my big planters, and washed something disgusting in my fairy fountain. He managed to get into the garbage cans, and showed his displeasure at not being able to get into the worm bins by knocking everything around it to the ground. The bugger. I can’t wait until the vegetables start coming out. It could be war.

The only consolation is that I wasn’t singled out. This morning, as I grumbled in my nightie and started picking up after the bastard, I heard my neighbour on the deck below doing the same thing.

Now, it’s turned cold again and the high later this week will only be 10C. I don’t know if my orchids will stand up to all the stress. They’re going to have to — I’m not dragging them all back inside two days after taking them out! If they die I may switch to cactus plants. That’ll even the score with that raccoon.