A bold statement, and twenty years in the making, but one I believe deserves the title. And yes I am celebrating this rose’s birthday because it has become a huge part of my life. At this point my wife Sheryl is allowed to roll her eyes because the pink rose I’m about to go on about has been just as BIG in her life as well. (I can’t imagine how many times she’s heard me mention, Flower Carpet.) This rose was our very first, and I want to share with you some of the Flower Carpet story as we mark this special year…
So here it is (below), looking as lovely as it always does. (I’d be surprised if you didn’t recognise this rose – I certainly see it everywhere.) Roughly twenty years ago my uncle told me about this very new and very different, brilliant rose, and he predicted that it would change my life. He was only partly right. It changed more lives than just mine, and it was a lot better than brilliant.
What do I mean about better than brilliant? Without getting too deep, this rose delivers a promise. It’s also a leveler. The promise is all about being easy to grow. We’d been told by Flower Carpet’s breeder that amazingly, it could be grown well by anyone, regardless of their gardening expertise. But if I were to promise people that Flower Carpet didn’t need any fancy pruning and spraying, I had to prove to myself that this was true. It took a few years of trials, but it was true. Take a look at that fence (below) and you’ll understand what I mean – this rose allowed non-rose growers to easily have masses of gorgeous rose blooms in their gardens. This was the promise and the leveler.
It’s always hard to remember that things are very different now than they were a couple of decades back, and it’s the same with gardening. Twenty years ago people had bigger gardens and often more time to spend in them. Now our spaces are smaller – patios and balconies are common – and even though everyone still wants to be surrounded with plants, they often need help to make it happen. This can work in two ways. You can pay someone to keep everything looking great. Or you can do it yourself, but be clever and pick plants that are lovely but not fussy. Like this courtyard (below) where two or three plants fill the space, and one of them is Flower Carpet Amber. (There are now ten different Flower Carpet rose colors to choose from.)
Even I don’t know exactly how many Flower Carpet roses have been grown and then planted out into home gardens and landscapes over the past twenty years. I mean, I do see them everywhere and I do travel all over looking for new and interesting plants. But the really special thing is, after the initial wow-here’s-a-special-rose moment and you arrive at the point where most people expect the latest thing to lose some of it’s sparkle, the number of people asking for Flower Carpet roses just kept growing. I’d had a hopeful hunch that this would happen, that people would see what a great, easy-care rose this was. And they did. And they still do. It’s as relevant today in a container on a balcony as it was in garden beds all those years ago.
Here’s a classic shot of a Flower Carpet pink that may even have been planted “all those years ago”. If you look carefully you can see past its brilliant show to spot the weeds and the wild ivy. Clearly no one has been here to carry out even a little garden maintenance but has that bothered this rose? No way. It’s not fussed. Proof again that this was always going to be a great rose and that’s why I’m so happy to celebrate this anniversary.
I’m also very aware that if it weren’t for Flower Carpet, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to meet special people – both the well known and the not so famous – extraordinary people linked to the field of horticulture and my area of passion. Here I am with HRH The Prince of Wales, this shot taken at the opening of Auckland’s Botanical Gardens Children’s Garden which we supported some years ago; and here I am more recently standing in awe as I speak to gathered horticultural luminaries at the Royal Horticultural Society, Kew.
So here we all are. Happily looking back over our shoulder at the last twenty years and equally happy to look ahead.
(P.S Putting the fabulous Flower Carpet rose’s birthday to one side for a moment, in case anyone’s interested, here’s a shot of what I looked like back then, and what I look like now. Forever handsome, or so Sheryl assures me. But maybe not quite so gorgeous as that wonderful pink rose…)