In the May/June 2022 issue of Veranda.
Charlotte Moss lays bare her long-running romance with the garden megastar and the cache of secrets and stories hidden in its delicate layers.
Arriving in the country shortly before Christmas I was delighted to find a few of you still waiting for me. A testament, surely, to your stamina and willingness to hang on long enough to have our last tête-à-tête before spring.
Unlike your cousins, the beautiful blossoms of summer, you waited. The last bud of the season, shy, unopened with the weight of moisture from a heavy winter frost, yet standing tall, there you were hanging on so I could bid you a final farewell.
Alone at last, we finally have some privacy, and there is one fact about you that we have never discussed: your past associated with so many men. Apart from a few female social types with world-class gardens who relished the bragging rights of having your acquaintance, all in your orbit have been men. The retinue of lovers, scholars, explorers is an enviable coterie of gentlemen. André Dupont, Jean-Pierre Vibert, Joseph Pernet-Ducher, Antoine Meilland, Graham Stuart Thomas, Peter Beales, and David Austin, all intoxicated with the prospect of having you as their mistress.
Your allure is your elusiveness. You are the siren of the garden. Your fragrance seduces, summons one closer, quietly forcing surrender.
I guess it all makes sense really, your loyalists, your salon of men, all captivated by your beauty and driven to do anything in their power to make you more perfect than you are.
Your allure is your elusiveness. You are the siren of the garden.
Your fragrance seduces, summons one closer, quietly forcing surrender.
Your flirtatiousness is evidenced by your voluptuous petals mimicking the curled pouting lip of a manipulative child.
The brief time you visit me in my garden I wake to see your complex-ion veiled in early morning dew.
In the evening, while I know you must be exhausted from visitors staring, talking about you as if you are not even there, you await our evening visit with enthusiasm.
Your delicate pale, satin-like petals, your perfume, the fringe of red around your dark green leaves—every aspect of your personality has been analyzed. But you never tire of the scrutiny, just endure with grace, and wait for me to reappear and love you for whatever you are today.
While you are not overly demanding, your silent appeals for my attention are heard, and sometimes I change my schedule to align with yours.
Remember the year I went to Europe for the month of June?
I ached; I dreamed about your face and won-dered whether you felt the same. I was jealous others were enjoying your company in my absence. Did you miss our private early morn-ing conversations, me with shears, basket, and coffee attended by two patient spaniels?
I have always wondered.
I always will.
As I write on the cusp of spring, I feel the earth yielding to my steps. This reluctant thaw has me thinking of our impending rendevous.
I have ensured you will have some new neighbors this summer; they will no doubt join our conversations. But the two of us will continue to have our private time, and I promise to be with you in June.✦
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