Friday, 5 August 2022

How to: confuse the Red Queen with roses

Remember Alice, in Wonderland, asking the gardeners why they were painting the white roses red?

Because the queen - the Red Queen, of course - wanted red roses, was the answer, and they had planted the wrong ones.

Oh no! Off with their heads!

How many times have you bought a plant which was labelled as being a particular colour, then found it not to be so?

Agapanthus are the usual culprits: blue is the common colour, white is the super-desirable colour, and you can see why, in this part of the garden at Hampton Court Castle - that's not Hampton Court in London, it's a different place altogether, in Worcestershire, just south of Leominster and well worth a visit - where they have planted the pots with white Agapanthus and white Gladioli, of which I am extremely envious. 

Over the years, I have known several Clients who have bought "white" Agapanthus, which have then come up blue, which is very disappointing.

 Particularly the time when a garden designer had bought in 12 matching pots and 12 matching sets of white Agapanthus corms - and four months later, five of them were blue. It rather spoiled the display...


Roses are another story: sometimes they are simply labelled wrongly by the nursery: right.

Well, that's clearly not a yellow rose, is it?! The other two plants, bought on the same day, from the same nursery, were... *sighs*

But that's not the whole story, because sometimes roses do spontaneously produce one or more blooms of a different colour and/or shape: I'm not talking about when a grafted rose sends up suckers (just type "grafted" into the Search box, top left of the screen, to see a few examples that problem), instead I'm talking about a normal Rose stem, which suddenly produces a "sport", ie a rose of a quite different colour.

I've seen it a couple of times, over the years: once was a huge climbing yellow rose, which produced one dark pink flower. Just the one, quite high up.

And then, earlier this year, I found this:

How's that for confusion?

On the same flowering stem - honestly, no cunning photography, no glue or sticky tape - we have one white flower, and one pink flower.

Eat your heart out, Red Queen!

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