"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rosa Mundi

Rose of the Day: Rosa Mundi

It may not seem so, but I really do try not to say every type of rose I cultivate is my "favourite."

I probably have four serious favourites, each a different type or species or hybrid. All roses are not created equal in my opinion, although I love them all--as individuals--or they wouldn't populate my garden.

Rosa gallica versicolor, commonly and popularly known as Rosa Mundi, isn't a casual favourite. I've got a relationship with this rose.

It's a sport of the Rosa gallica officinalis, the Apothecary Rose (a future ROTD), which was used for perfume and medicines and dates from about 1200. Sometime before 1581, it mutated into a bi-colour version of itself, its original red/pink and splashed with paler pink/white. A star was born.

Turning to the ever-reliable Old Rose Adventurer for a description (he supplies many), I found this one most apt: "Flower rose-red, striped and variegated with white, fragrant. Growth vigorous."

Vigorous indeed--mine doubles or triples in size every year--meaning I get two and three times the blooms I had the previous June. What a champion!

Because it struck people as so romantically different, it was labeled "Rosamunde" for Fair Rosamund. Those familiar with English history will know she was the beautiful (tragic) mistress of King Henry II, unfaithful husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine--leading to a rumour/legend that the Queen poisoned her rival. The association of the exquisite lady and the exotic rose is a fanciful; it's unlikely that poor Rosamunde Clifford ever saw it, due to the fact that she died centuries before its supposed debut.

As soon as I found out Rosa Mundi would grow in New England, I planted it. The first bush didn't thrive (oh, the heartbreak!). But its successor is the ever-expansive, outrageously productive, dearly beloved monster whose current crop of blooms illustrates today's post.

Rosa Mundi has an even greater claim to fame in this household: it's featured on the cover art for the first edition of one of my novels. Life imitated art when my heroine's favourite rose became mine--or maybe it was a little bit vice versa. Anyway, I made sure to supply my cover artist with photographs from my garden. He kindly and approprately painted in several of my choices.

The framed painting hangs in my house. I purchased the original--how could I not, it was my own garden preserved on canvas!

The colour reproduction isn't terribly good--today my blinds are drawn over the windows to keep out the scorching sun and if I'd used my flash it would've glared off the paint. But you get the idea.

And don't listen to the gossip about how in rose season the Chap dons a puffy shirt and I put on a pink satin ballgown and we re-enact this scene. (We prefer to wear t-shirts and shorts.)

Here's the painted version of Rosa Mundi close-up. And beside it, another future Rose of the Day.

And here, again, is an actual blossom, photographed this morning. If you compare the painted image to the one below, they're nearly identical!

I only wish you could smell it, too!

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