Also known as Japanese briar, saltspray rose, beach rose, potato rose and Turkestan rose.
The white variety Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ is now in bloom in my garden and doing much better than usual after a spell without any cows in the field next door. On Sunday my friend Cesare from Milan and I were inspecting the more common deep pink variety up at Harnham and pondering the rugosa part of its name. The Latin means ‘wrinkled’ but although the petals have an unironed quality, they’re more dishevelled than actually creased or wrinkled.
It eventually occurred to me that perhaps it was/is the leaves that were/are rugosa – quite deeply lined, much more textured than other varieties of rose. It seems to make sense. Strange to notice how this new insight about a plant I’ve loved for a very long time has made it come alive in a new way for me, freshening my intimacy with it. And that’s all before I even mention the smell…These past few warm days the garden’s been a veritable bowl of sweetness.