Saturday, 13 June 2015

Flower Power : A Picnic in the Rose Garden

Have you ever wanted to have dinner in the company of great figures from lgbt history like Benjamin Britten, Lawrence of Arabia or Dusty Springfield? Well, you can. You can enjoy the summer with a picnic in your garden or local park with all of three, and more.

This variation of the fantasy dinner party idea where you take the meal outdoors and have the actual people present, not in flesh and blood but as flowers in the garden. If you’ve got green fingers you can create you own garden of gay blooms. Many garden flowers and plants are named after real people, just like the asteroids I’ve featured in my “Out of This World” series.

Let’s start by looking at the most popular garden flower of all, the rose. As well as what I’d call the “usual suspects” (i.e. those particularly well-known people who have just about anything named after them, like Leonardo da Vinci, or Tchaikovsky) there’s a wide range of lgbt people who have a rose named after them.

I’ve listed some roses below which you might like. I give the name of the rose first followed by a little information about each of them.

Freddie Mercury – Named after the lead singer of Queen. It was first propagated in 1992, the year after his death. His fan club raised the money to register his name for this rose. The first Freddie mercury rose was given to his mother and sister, who live here in Nottingham. Freddie’s favourite roses were yellow, and the rose named after him is yellow with a pink tint to the edge of the petals. You can often see this rose on sale at Queen conventions.

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt – named after the First Lady of America, Eleanor Roosevelt. It is highly appropriate that Eleanor has a rose named after her because, as I explained in her “Queer Achievement” article, the family uses the rose as a family emblem. The “Mrs. Franklin D Roosevelt” is a hybrid tea rose first propagated in 1933. Eleanor remarked, “I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”

Dusty Springfield – a light pink floribunda rose named after the popular singer. It was bred by one of the UK’s leading rose-breeders in 2001.

Friedrich Albert Krupp – named after one of the greatest industrialists in German who lived at the end of the 19th century. The rose was bred in Germany in 1903, the year after his death. The flowers of this hybrid tea rose are similar to the “Freddie Mercury” rose but smaller.

Karen Blixen – one of the whitest of white roses available. It was first propagated in 1994 and was named after the author of “Out of Africa”. The heavily fragrant flowers grow in clusters like an instant bouquet.

Benjamin Britten – appropriately for a typically English composer, the Benjamin Britten rose is a soft red colour. It has orange tinges when it first blooms and the colour deepens as the days pass. It has a fruity fragrance, described as having aspects of wine and pear drops.

Lawrence of Arabia – if you want a really showy rose, then go for this one named after the famous adventurer, soldier and writer. It is a hybrid tea rose, first propagated in 1988. The flowers have a deep yellow-orange heart and the outer petals blend into pink edges.

I hope this short wander through the lgbt rose garden has inspired you to go out and create your own fantasy picnic garden, or, if you haven’t got a garden, go out to your local park and enjoy the company of some famous-named roses.

No doubt I’ll return to the garden in the future with more rosy guests.

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