In the politically incorrect days of the early twentieth century, the celebrated plantsman, A.E.Bowles devoted a part of his garden to horticultural oddities and called it ‘ the lunatic asylum’. Here he grew weird plants with ‘mental health issues’ such as the corkscrew hazel. I don’t know whether he grew the unusual Rosa chinensis ‘Viridiflora’ but it would certainly be a suitable candidate for his ‘lunatic asylum’.
When we imagine a rose, we think of sumptuous, velvety soft petals in beautiful colours and of course, exquisite fragrance. The green rose doesn’t offer anything like this. It is an aberration, not a modern, man- made one, but rather the result of a chance mutation. It first appeared in 1743. It is odd because all its petals have become leaves. Ok, brace yourselves, this is what it looks like.
It has been ignored or reviled and called hideous ever since it appeared. But it was liked enough to be brought into culture in 1856 by a British firm, Bembridge and Harrison and enough people have loved it enough to keep it going ever since. I love any flower with apple green flowers and I like the way these become tinged with bronze as they mature. I also like their tufty, spiky shape and peppery fragrance.
So for my arrangement today, I looked for a green vase to display them in and found my Masons Ironstone ‘Chartreuse’ jug.
To go with the green flowers I used green hops, Humulus lupulus. These come up everywhere in my garden and are fiendishly difficult to get rid of. But I quite like them at this time of the year for making garlands or for vases.
I have grown quite a few zinnias in bright colours this year but I thought the more subtle colour of Zinnia ‘Queen Red Lime’ goes the best with my green roses.
I also used a spray of my favourite Alcalthaea x suffrutescens‘Parkallee’.
I have quite a few lovely bottle brush grasses, Pennisetum in the garden so these finished off the arrangement. The ones in the above picture are Pennisetum alopecuriodes and the stamens of the hollyhock match it perfectly.
So there we have my weird rose. Before you judge it too harshly, if you think of it as an unusual green flower rather than a rose you might like it better. Vita Sackville West couldn’t make up her mind about it but she did concede that it is very useful for flower arranging. And as it is a China rose it has a long season of flowering. Anyway, I have an affection for eccentricities, be it in flowers or people.
Do pop over to Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden and see the beautiful dahlias in her Vase on Monday and then take a look at all the other vases showing off their September bounty today.