Leda - Another White Rose BleedsSunday, 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.