... yes, roses. They went in from early July to late September last year. Now let's take an early-autumn walk around the garden and see how they are going.
First, in a side bed on the western fence we have Radox Bouquet, which Stirling Macoboy describes as 'richly fragrant (although hardly of bath salts!)'. This position was something of a gamble: it gets summer sun in the morning but is shaded by the house in winter except for a few hours in the middle of the day. The tag stated Radox Bouquet reaches 1.5 metres, but the plant has already topped 1.8 metres. It has long stems, shiny dark green foliage and delicate deep pink flowers. Can't be faulted. 9/10.
Now we move to the back fence that has already been vaulted by Climbing Gold Bunny (which did nothing for two years and then exploded and is now as high as fourteen feet). Next to that, and in retrospect possibly a little too close, is another 'gold' - Golden Giant. It's a slow starter. We'll wait and see. 6/10.
Now moving north again along the east side fence. At the south end of the ornamental grape-festooned pergola is a corner of the garden that traps the afternoon summer sun. It feels like an oven between four and six before some shade creeps across the garden and gives some relief. Here I planted Climbing Friesia, also known as Sunsprite. It went into the ground in late spring and has just this last week peeped over the fence at the neighbours. It has brilliant green foliage on long slender stems bearing pale yellow flowers the colour of the slice of Meyer lemon in my gin and tonic. Fizz! Another block of ice and refresh the drink, thanks waiter. Oh, the rose: 10/10.
Putting the drink down for a minute, we come to Climbing Seduction. No, wait, this went in three years ago. There has been no climbing, and no seduction. It did nothing in the first year, sulked in the second and got brown leaves this summer. I cut it back at Christmas and now it is shooting and flowering at about 18 inches elevation. Must try harder! 4/10.
Now we proceed to the east sideway between house and fence. Darker here; shaded by the house next door in the morning and this house in the afternoon. So I needed a couple of valiant climbers that would get up high and bask on the fence. And the race is on! Albertine, a prolific small-flowered climber has a nose in front as we write, with fine rambling stems that have already reached over the resurgent Hydrangea; but Climbing Lorraine Lee, an old Australian favourite, is a stayer and as a winter flowerer, might just sneak up onto the fence first. Each 8/10. (Lorraine Lee was popular early and mid-last century. I often see huge, ancient examples with trunks as thick as fruit trees on my long walks around the inner northern suburbs. It's fun to play rose detective.)
Now to the front garden. Here, on the eastern fence line, Handel is in a lost corner of garden bed you cannot see, but will climb up and cover the divider section between fence and house, and greet the crimson bougainvillea that is growing next door. A red-and-yellow flowerer, it is already four feet tall. 7/10.
Finally, in the front garden bed, Hero has yet to make a move. A little foliage and a clear-pink double flower or two have appeared, but no great progress yet. She's waiting for Leander. 6/10.
I'm already planning for winter and spring. Today I broke concrete. I had forgotten how much fun breaking concrete is. You have to have the right tools, however. A mattock and a pick or at least a heavy mallet and a crowbar make the job easier. The concrete was an old paved section that served no purpose any more, a bare spot next to the shed close to the hottest position in the back garden. I dug it out, barrowed the rubble behind the shed, dug out the old dead soil, ripped up the creeper grass that would grow under Sydney Road if you let it, sprinkled gypsum over the clay and filled the hole with compost from one of the two bins. It was full of worms. I'll leave it for a few months and then I'll put in another rose. It's the perfect spot for Just Joey. Or Leonardo Da Vinci. Or St. Patrick. Or Marilyn Monroe. Or Spellbound ...
Help! I'm a rose tragic.