Remembering with a rose

Whether your country is part of the Commonwealth as mine is (Canada) or not, you may have joined me in having some quiet thoughts about the remarkable woman everyone knew as Queen Elizabeth II. Even if you’re not into monarchies, you have to give her credit for her steadfastness and grace under pressure throughout a reign that has lasted most of our lives. One thought I’d like to share with you is the idea of remembering the Queen in the garden.

Gardens are wonderful havens of peace and beauty. They’re also a forever-changing, very personal palimpsest. Rather than writing over top of an already word-covered page, you, nature and and the passing seasons work together to continually re-write, so to speak, a garden. But within that marvellous process of re-creation, there are moments when we recognize the changes in our garden and how our relationship to it has changed as we add layer upon layer of meaning and memories. It’s this remarkable attachment we have to our gardens that make them, quite naturally, a place to honour a moment or a person.

Roses in a garden
I can’t confirm that the roses pictured above are Queen Elizabeth grandifloras but their colouring is pretty close.

A flower for the queen

If you’d like to salute the Queen with an addition to your garden I can’t think of a better plant than the Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora Rose, a fragrant, upright rose with a gorgeous pink colour. Introduced in 1954, it was the first grandiflora ever–a hardy cross between a floribunda and a hybrid tea rose. The Queen Elizabeth blooms are a tad larger than a floribunda, held aloft in clusters on tall stems. It can appear a tad leggy, given its height with blooms appearing at the ends of the stems but that makes it all the better for taking pride of place in the centre of a deep bed, surrounded by other perennials. Or it will make a gorgeous flourish finishing off the back of a bed. You can order them online in Ontario at Sheridan Nurseries and Art’s Nursery in British Columbia as well, I’m sure, at other larger garden nurseries across Canada.

If you’re not into roses or looking for something more, another lovely option is the Elizabeth Magnolia, exceptional for its yellow flowers. Best planted in full to part shade, it will grow upwards of 35 feet in height. Keep in mind, however, that the Elizabeth magnolia isn’t the downtown type, being intolerant of urban pollution.

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