Photo above: Rose Lady Hillingdon
In 1886 the Hon. Alice Harbord, daughter of Baron Suffield, married Charles Mills 2nd Baron Hillingdon thus becoming Lady Hillingdon. She preferred London society to life on the Overstrand estate in Norfolk. She was, and still is, a considerable beauty with a wide and deserved reputation; a statement which requires some further explanation. In her lifetime she was famed for her aphorisms, and the one which is always attached to her and allegedly appeared in her now lost diary was her confession about lying back and thinking of England.
Moving hastily on to the second association, this concerns a stunning Tea rose bred in this country, introduced in 1917 and named after Lady Hillingdon. Probably one of the last Tea roses to come onto the market before the Hybrid Teas took over, Lady Hillingdon is a stunning climbing rose with dark green leaves and crimson young growth against which the drooping apricot blooms flower off and on throughout the summer. The blooms themselves, of course, have a strong fragrance of China tea. There is a splendid specimen in the gardens of the Bishop's Palace. Setting aside her aphorisms, let us remember Lady Hillingdon in the form of a truly sumptuous rose.
In many a gift shop window filled with a variety of gimcrackery there has been a trend to embellish the odd bit of driftwood, seaside mug, tea towels galore or lump of rock with some pithy saying or trite proverb which some marketing fellow thought a good idea. In our kitchen we have a handy tea tray which was a gift from a kindly soul, so it is in constant use. Around the edge of the article are the words: A Gardener's Work Is Never At An End. To ram the message home, it is repeated three times. Now this aphorism, for want of a better word, appeals both to the optimist and to the pessimist. I tend to lie in the latter camp on this one. June, the month when things are busting out all over, is a time to hang up the fork and throw in the trowel and enjoy the rewards of the effort of recent weeks. It is a time to go a visiting. Gardens large and small await our admiration. We can glean ideas and take delight in all the different aspects of an English garden in the summer. We then return home and with a quietly smug sense of satisfaction, sit back and drink in the pleasures of our own patch enjoying the pleasures of an evening in the garden, ignoring the demands of the tea tray to grab an implement and throw ourselves into manic activity.
In June and July, the Gardening Club will be visiting Compton Acres near Poole and the village gardens of Stogumber in the Quantocks. There is much to enjoy ahead. Pip.Photo below: summer evening in the garden.