Amid the national lockdown, I am taking comfort in my garden. I undertake a daily inspection of my roses, and they are now displaying shoots after this wettest and most miserable of winters.
Even if space only allows you a couple of tubs by the kitchen door, it is time to start tending, for few pleasures are greater than plants coming into the growing season. Many of the ground cover roses I have planted on top of the garden wall are now bristling with shoots. All have survived.
My greatest pleasure in recent days is to watch the first shoots appearing on a recently planted Alba Maxima, or Jacobite rose. These produce double blooms – pure white, with creamy muddled centres and a wonderful fragrance.
The Jacobite rose, emblem of the supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the ’45, is thought to have come from Fossifern in Argyllshire, home of the Cameron of Lochiel’s brother. It is said to be at its best on June 10, birthday of the Old Pretender. And while it is summer flowering only, its resonance gives all the more pleasure.
This is an ideal time to be tending plants (or taking cuttings if you cannot get to a nursery), using the time to reinvigorate tubs. It is cause to look forward to the summer. There is little to beat the therapeutic value of gardening, however modest a display we may have.
Watching my roses come into bud is a daily reminder that life continues, there is growth, life goes on, we can nurse things along and that the best is yet to be.
I cannot think of better reassurance in these darkest of times.