a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Thoughts on my modern rose


When we bought our property in France we inherited a pink modern rose in the front garden.  It had no perfume and managed to scratch me every time I  needed to turn on the water hose.

I was all for getting rid of it.  My husband, who likes roses more than me, pointed out that we had hardly any flowers in the garden – beggars can’t be choosers.

I excepted his logic but I told the rose that its days were numbered once we came over to live permanently.

We had the house and garden for four years before we moved and were properly able look after the garden.  The rose survived remarkably well for an unloved, uncared for plant.

The rose starts to flower early in the season and goes on late into the year, flowering abundantly when there are few flowers around to cut to bring inside.  It lasts very well when cut and looks excellent even as a single stem in a rose vase.

It never seems to suffer from the usual rose afflictions and now that it receives more care (from my husband) I have noticed that it does have a very light, delicate perfume.  It looks both good in bud and when it is fully open.

To cut a long story short, I find I cannot do without it for table decorations but I do feel I have been somehow manipulated by it.  Despite its lack of natural harmony – providing perfume and nectar and pollen- I do not want to do without it.

If it was only a modern rose and not other things that we find we cannot live without.

I was reading a blog yesterday http://adventuresinbeeland.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/the-lost-british-summer/ and there is concern that there may not be enough natural resources for the bees that are being kept in London U.K., that there are too many bees for the amount of forage in the city.  Yet there are 3000 parks and open spaces in London.  The five Royal Parks in Central London cover 498 hectares and counting the three Royal Parks in the suburbs it mounts up to 1478 hectares of Royal Parks alone.

Could more be done to provide forage for the bees?  Are there choices that could be made in the choices of trees, bushes and plants to maximise their usefulness?  Or is it tidier to have mown lawns surrounded by clipped Yew trees.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

15 thoughts on “Thoughts on my modern rose

  1. I have always been partial to the antique and heritage breeds myself. Most people don’t realize the smell has been bred out of roses. Here in the US roses are an out crop and we’ve had many very big and famous farms go into bankruptcy. Most people don’t want to deal with roses and their needs.

    I’m so sorry to hear about the bees. I know here people have been horrified to find out I have a back yard hive.


  2. I think we get used to taking the easy way out in modern life, it’s understandable but sometimes I think we can do a little bit more without too much effort.


  3. Thanks for linking to my blog! More dandelions and clover could be left to grow here, we shouldn’t be so afraid of a bit of long grass. Plus think of all the wasted space on roof tops.


  4. Those are beautiful roses and beautiful pictures, one of my favourite flowers. I wish more people thought wild flowers were beautiful too, we need to grow more of these.


    • Wild flowers are beautiful but can be inconvenient in gardens. I am not so sure if people should be encouraged to grow wild flowers in their garden which they may not be able to control and then give up the whole idea in disgust (I am thinking here of your average size English garden). There are so many plants that are so much easier to grow and produce lots of pollen and nectar, including trees and shrubs. The wild flower areas might be better encouraged in open areas.


      • That’s a good point, and there are lots of other bee-friendly plants. My mum’s lavender bush usually buzzes dawn to dusk with bees, and my friend Lisa’s herb garden is very popular with honey bees. Herb gardens are wonderful because of the amazing drifts of scent.


  5. As you might expect given my favourite photography subject, my garden is planted for insect life. I have found it fascinating to notice the way all the insects’ lives are interconnected. For example, there are certain flowers that must first be visited by smaller, solitary bees, who squeeze into the narrow blooms, forcing them apart, before the bigger bees, such a bumble bees, can visit. This is a thoughtful post. Nicely done.


    • Thank you. You notice such a lot just watching. My lime tree is flowering at the moment and has me enthralled. It is not very tall yet but heavy with flowers so it lovely to stand there in the perfume and watch.


  6. I think you can allow yourself to enjoy such a good provider of flowers for the house, Most of your garden has plants for pollinators so I don’t think it is a problem, balance is the issue and I’m sure you have that. I’m very surprised with what you said about bees in London, I’ve heard several programmes encouraging more people to keep bees in London (and other cities); apaprt from the parks there is a huge number of private gardens which added together covers a huge area. Private gardeners are being encouraged to plant simple flowers that pollinators like. Christina


    • Certainly it looks as if some research is needed. I have no idea how extensive bee keeping has become in London nor how many flowers it takes to feed all those little mouths.


    • Hi Christina,

      It’s true that there are a huge number of private gardens, although more so in the suburbs than central London. Also there is a trend for time-pushed Londoners to put decking, paving or pebbles in their back gardens and turn their front gardens into car parks, as most houses have no garages. The weather here does not really encourage spending time outside admiring our gardens! There are some fantastic gardens and parks but there are also a lot of beekeepers.


  7. Hallo Amalia, I know that all the posts about your previously ‘unloved’ rose date from 2012 so I hope this comment will still be of use to any readers. There is a nurseryman here in this country, which by the way is The Netherlands, who has produced a shrub this year, there are still not very many of them available. It is a shrub that will survive -35°C which is extremely cold! It will grow to 80cm. high and achieve a width of 1m. So wider than tall. Suitable for whole plantation beds in public parks or in private gardens. It has a sunshine yellow appearance and it can even be mowed and will grow again. It will grow in any soil in sun or in shadow. It is a magnet for all bees and butterflies and it flowers from July until october. Which makes it very useful for foraging bees gathering winter supplies. The name of the plant is Diervilla rivularis Honeybee and the nurseryman, Willem, is also 100% biologically responsible and uses no chemicals, neither does he plough his ground. He has his own webshop which can be found at budgetplants.eu I hope that thousands and thousands of people will plant this wonderful addition to the bee and butterfly larder perhaps in combination with yew or box plants that are ubiquitous. I am planting mine in front of all my yew hedging so dark green and sunshine yellow. I think that will be very attractive. SAG

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really want to try this!


  9. Andre Briant is the supplier in France I have discovered. I wish you every success


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s