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Simply the Best

"A rose is forever"
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 Moving into our bungalow over thirty years ago we found that the front lawn had a variety of standard willow as a centre piece. For the first three years, the tree developed vigorously, its head getting wider and wider. No flowers, just musky green leaves. Quite ugly, we thought, and resolved to replace it.

With what? That was the next question. We finally decided, given its central position, and our desire to have a floral show, that the easiest solution would be a standard rose.

We didn’t need to pay too much for it in case it did not meet our needs. Accordingly, when we found the local supermarket gardening department (covering all of thirty square yards) offered a few straggly looking standard rose bushes at ‘give-away’ prices, we looked no further. 

Selecting, what looked like  the most likely to survive the coming winter, we came away with a near leafless model blithely named ‘Simply the Best.’ With doubt filling my mind I removed the willow, and carefully dug in the weak looking replacement in a trench containing much fertiliser and plant food.

Throughout that first winter I watched it worriedly through heavy frosts, snow and biting winds. The skeletal twigs at its head seemed to mock our frugality. Why had we not gone to a specialist rose tree company?

As March pushed us towards a most welcome spring I was almost relieved to see the first pale leaf-buds appearing on the thin twigs. But was that my imagination? April showed that it was not, leaves did appear, bright green and promising.

By Autumn time there had been three or four decent orange roses, which seemed a blessing. A precursor of what lay ahead came when, with all other rose bushes surrendering their blossoms and leaves to winter frosts, our cheap standard bush held one final single rose until beyond New Year’s Day. Pure luck, I guessed.

But it wasn’t. Over the thirty years since we bought it, that rose tree has been the first to flower, so many blooms that,  at summer’s height, roses hid all else. And of course, it is always leaving one last bloom into the heart of the bitterest winter.

That standard rose has had only one real enemy—the north wind that blows up the street. There have been a few mornings, after a gusty night, when I have looked out at the rose leaning alarmingly at 45 degrees. Many attempts to tie it securely erect, have been unsuccessful. Neighbours have offered advice, have even given constructive help, but if the wind is strong enough it is always the victor.

Thankfully, it has always been recoverable, but, at thirty years old, I fear, like many oldies, it may, one winter’s day simply lay down and die.

But until that unwelcome time, it is now November, and from where I am sitting, I can count seven full orange roses, and eight near open buds. Of course, the heavy frosts have not arrived yet,  but I am confident that by New Year there will still be a rose on that bush.

So aptly named ‘Simply The Best’!



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