A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Leda - Another White Rose Bleeds
Sunday, July 08, 2007

In Greek mythology, Leda (Λήδα) was daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, and wife of the king Tyndareus, of Sparta. Her myth gave rise to the popular motif in Renaissance and later art of Leda and the Swan. She was the mother of Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux.

Leda was loved by Zeus, who seduced her in the guise of a swan. As a swan, Zeus fell into her arms for protection from a pursuing eagle. Their consummation, on the same night as Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulted in two eggs from which hatched Helen - later known as the beautiful Helen Of Troy, Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux.

I will keep pursuing the theme here on how my plants, in particular my roses make me associate and think of topics that would normally have nothing to do with a garden.

The rape of Leda is strangely depicted in a copy of a lost Michelangelo painting as the penetration of Leda's mouth by the swan's beak.

The rose shown here. Rosa 'Leda' is a Damask from the early 19th century,. There are two versions. The French one is pink with red edging while the English one (my specimen) is white with the same red edging. I would suppose that the red represents the blood caused by the swan's repeated thrusts. Information on Damask roses is confusing. They resemble Gallicas but some of them like 'Quatre Saisons' bloom more than once. Leda can sporadically bloom in the fall.

As much as gardeners put value in plants that flower more than once and will in many cases ignore old roses that are not remontant I have discovered that Gallicas and specially Damasks make up for their lack of remontancy by having a very long (Leda blooms at the end of May, all of June and as you can see here, she is still at it.)one time blooming season. When you consider that they are also intensly fragrant it is hard to understand why they may be ignored as good garden plants.

The appearance of red or pink in the edge of a white rose is not all that infrequent.

In my own garden there are two English Roses that do this. One is Winchester Cathedral and the other is Fair Bianca. Perhaps I will have to wait a while before I teach Rebecca the story behind my beautiful Leda.


Previous Posts
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

The Other Side Of Two Dimensions

Brother Cadfael's Poison

Nostalgia & Penguins In The Arctic

Ona Grauer, Beautiful Design & Why I Am Not A Plum...

Elegant Violence & Alison Griffiths Bites The Dust...

Mexican Armpits - Astrantia major subsp. involucra...

Carl Valentine & I Didn't Clean Ale's Fridge

Lance Henriksen - Very Good At Being Very Bad

Death & The Maiden

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010