The Peony Does NOT Have to be Your Favorite Flower

in the rose garden at Hampton Court Palace, England

In the rose garden at Hampton Court Palace, England

For some reason, it seems like EVERY blogger, stylist, and wedding planner is OBSESSED with peonies. Are they getting paid by a secret society of peony pushers? Have they brainwashed all of us into thinking that only the peony is “pretty?”

I admit; I fell for it for a moment this year. I voraciously googled how to grow peonies in Florida and even thought, “Maybe I could grow them in my refrigerator…”

It took traveling to England to remind me of my first flower love, and in my opinion the queen of the flower kingdom, the English Garden Rose.

My granddaddy in his rose garden.

My granddaddy in his rose garden.

My granddaddy, William “Dub” Browning, was a master gardener among being a myriad of other incredible things. He grew and tended over 100 rose bushes of varying varieties in his yard and was featured in our local paper, The Florida Times-Union, for this beautiful feat. Every Saturday morning when I was a child, he brought over a grocery bag of fruit, 2 buckets of garden roses, and a five dollar bill because “every young lady needed five dollars of spending money in her pocketbook.”

I grew up surrounded by the smell of those roses. I even chose garden roses as the prominent flower in my wedding bouquet because of Granddaddy~ yet still the “push of peony” had fogged my memory. They ARE just peonies, right? Not poppies or opium?

But, when we walked through the neighborhoods of London and through the gardens of Hampton Court and Blenheim Palace, the smells were transportive. I was back in my Granddaddy’s garden.

Peonies are pretty, but garden roses are beautiful.

“Old Garden Roses” are full, lush, double-flowered blooms that carry a heady fragrance. They are fluffy, delicate yet hardy, and are also called “antique” and “historic.”  Roses fill the yards and climb the  garden walls in Notting Hill, Chelsea, Kensington, and Sloane Square (boroughs of London). They make for beautiful walks, transforming what would be a mundane trip to the bus stop, a beautiful one. Being surrounded by such beauty just makes you feel better; it’s inspiring.

Growing roses in Florida is easier than you might think, as long as you get “old” roses. Stay away from the newer hybrids of the 1900’s. Old English Roses will not only surround your home with beauty, but make for great cutting gardens so you can bring the beauty inside. I’ve already ordered 3 “climbing rose bushes” from The Antique Rose Emporium which will be delivered in late September, and bought Chloe’s relatively new perfume Roses de Chloe … I just don’t want to escape the smell!

They were planted in the gardens of early Rome and Babylon, they were painted on the walls of Egyptian pyramids, and they were carved in the stonework of some of England’s greatest castles. And… they were in Granddaddy’s garden. Peonies are pretty, but garden roses are classic.
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From the rose garden at Hampton Court Palace

From the rose garden at Hampton Court Palace

The seat of the Duke of Marlborough

Blenheim Palace, the seat of the Duke of Marlborough

 

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