Catherine of Aragon (left) and Anne Boleyn. Rival gardeners, among other things.

Catherine of Aragon (left) and Anne Boleyn. Rival gardeners, among other things.

Horticulturely speaking, I’m au fait

Peter Warland and Catherine of Aragon both had strong opinions on wildflowers versus domestic flowers

Peter Warland

“There are three types of flowers: wild, domesticated and weeds. Weeds are our problems for they spend their lives attracting crawling insects like my husband so that they might be fertilized then propagate as did that Anne Boleyn slut.” Queen Catherine of Aragon

Over the ages there has been an awful lot said and written about England’s Henry VIII and his six wives, his infidelity and the cruel fates of several of the ladies, but the rancour of the first royal lady, Catherine of Aragon, is often ignored, probably because she swore in Spanish.

Catherine probably had hundreds of gardeners all slaving away and muttering obscenities in Spanish. I wonder if they had dandelions back then.

Of course, all of us have personal tastes. Flowers are flowers whether some person or other bred them or not. Flowers can be joyful to the eye and yet, they can be a pain.

For example, I have wild roses growing at my place and I enjoy them when they bloom but I dislike the cultivated ones. My grand-daughter brought a rose back from the nursery where she was employed so we planted it with care and it bloomed profusely but, a couple of days later, the petals fell off and left a scrawny, ugly bush; that rose didn’t last long.

I guess wild flowers are great because nature looks after them; I don’t.

As did my friend Paul when he spotted that mass of Indian Paintbrush up there by Little Bear Lake, I can stand and stare in awe and wonder, then I move on. I don’t see them collapse.

We were on the ridges as usual and nature was putting on a show for us. The rocks were smothered in wild flowers and I was proudly exhibiting nature’s wonders to our friends from Europe. I was still excited even when Wendy proclaimed that the flowers were typically circum-polar. She’d recognized them from the Alps and Scandinavia, but I wasn’t crushed; it was so pleasant there.

Like that day when we spotted a low saddle on the ridge ahead of us and it looked as if someone had spread a blue tarpaulin there. When we finally got to the spot we discovered that the ‘tarpaulin’ was actually a mass of larkspurs showing off.

I’ve never persuaded larkspurs to inhabit my garden but I’ve got penstemon from the Wycliffe buttes on my rockery, columbines from the Rockies and even some clematis that I dug up from that hillside that leads up to Kimberley. They’re all part of my family. We are a going concern. I wonder how a mass of balsam roots (sunflowers) would look.

When we first purchased this property I encouraged the wild flowers that flourished here but, apparently, it looked like such a haven for flowers that all the weeds from my neighbours drifted over and strangled everything. I was forced to resort to weed-killers as Queen Catherine of Aragon should have done before that cow Anne Boleyn stole her husband.

Peter Warland is a Cranbrook writer, ridge-walker and anthophile, and like Henry VIII has a very tenuous link to the House of Lancaster.