One of the most innovative means of celebrating the 150th birthday of W.B. Yeats this year has come from a group of keen Sligo gardeners.
Secret Gardens of Sligo and the Yeats Society are launching a brand new variety of rose to be named in honour of the famous poet as part of the Yeats2015 celebrations.
The new rose, developed on Irish soil by world-renowned rose breeders, Dickson’s Nurseries, is being launched here in Sligo. It will be an on-going, living legacy for Yeats, and both Secret Gardens of Sligo and the Yeats Society hope that within a few years the variety will be seen growing all over Yeats’s ‘land of heart’s desire’.
Yeats wrote a series of poems about red roses, and the rosa canina is also mentioned many times in his work. The new WB Yeats rose is a gentle marriage of both – a red rose with the simple form of the hedgerow dog rose.
Buds that are almost purple open semi-flat to reveal thick, bright golden stamens, and the multi-headed flowers make a spectacular show.
This floribunda is disease-resistant and will flower from early summer right through until the first frosts – a perfect plant for gardens as well as parks and public spaces.
Rose-breeding is both a special science and a lengthy process, and one best left to the experts, and happily, Dickson’s have both the knowledge and experience.
They have created a prize-winning rose for Yeats. Although not yet launched, the rose has already won several awards, including a Certificate of Merit from The Hague International Rose Trials, and a Gold Medal from the Royal National Rose Society in the UK. A fitting rose for a Nobel Prize winning poet.
Breeding a new rose is a costly business. It includes the eight years of the breeding process, the cost of trialling it, registering and cataloguing it (so that it can be available for sale in garden centres here and abroad) and, of course, launching it both here in Sligo and also at Hampton Court Flower Show, which is the international forum for new roses.
Secret Gardens of Sligo and the Yeats Society need to raise €20,000 to pay for the WB Yeats rose, and are asking for donations from the public to ensure that the rose will be secured in honour of the poet.
Gifts of any amount are welcome, be it €1 or €1,000 and the organisers have stressed that they hope everyone will want to be involved in this tribute to Yeats.
“In years to come, we hope that WB Yeats roses will be growing all over the county, and that people will enjoy seeing them and be able to say: ‘I was part of that, I helped to name that rose’, said Lorely Forrester, director of the appeal.”
Anyone who donates to the project will become a Friend of the Yeats Rose, and their names will be entered into a special book that will be kept at the Yeats Society.
Those who give €100 or more will receive certificates acknowledging their role in helping to launch the rose.
Those giving €500 or more will also receive a signed, numbered, limited edition print of an original painting of the new rose, created by Irish botanical artist, Holly Somerville.
Those giving €1000 or more will become Patrons of the Yeats Rose, their names inscribed on a permanent plaque at the Yeats Society. They will receive a Holly Somerville print and also a WB Yeats rose later this year, making them the first people in the world to own and plant this new variety.
“I am really thrilled that so far we have two very kind patrons, and a growing number of people who will be receiving certificates,” said Lorely. “Just last week I received a cheque and good wishes for the project from the famous Irish garden designer, Diarmuid Gavin, which was a great encouragement.”
Donations can be made in several ways. There are currently donation boxes at The Yeats Society, Hyde Bridge in Sligo town, also at the Drumcliffe Tea House and Craft Shop beside Yeats’s grave, at Beltra Country Market and at Ardcarne Garden Centre. The organisers hope to have donation boxes at other sites very soon as well.
Alternatively, cheques can be made out to The Yeats Society (Yeats Rose) and sent to Lorely Forrester, The Old Rectory, Easkey, Co. Sligo; while the details for electronic transfer or paypal donations can be found on the Secret Gardens website: www.secretgardensofsligo.com
A list of the Friends of the Yeats Rose can also be found on the website. You can follow the rose on the Facebook page: An Irish Rose for Yeats on Facebook, and find it on Twitter (@YeatsRose).