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G.W. Bush, the Queen and CRS

Annoyed about President Bush’s arrogance, read what his people did at Buckingham Palace; and the Canadian Rose Society!
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

December 14, 2003

At a time of year when many days are dull, it is nice to look back at the summer just past. In the photo above you’re looking out from Bowen Island’s Snug Cove, and below, from an Island Highway lookout (just a 30 minute drive north of Victoria) this is the view to Brentwood Bay, with the Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay ferry off in the distance. Author photos.

In last week’s London (U.K.) Sunday Mirror newspaper, writer Terry O’Hanlon brought forth an item that didn’t seem to get much play over here, but obviously ought to have. Here’s what he wrote:

“The Queen is furious with President George W. Bush after his state visit caused thousands of pounds of damage to her gardens at Buckingham Palace. Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry as when she saw how her perfectly-maintained lawns had been churned up after being turned into helipads with three giant H landing markings for the Bush visit. The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign. And, Bush's army of clod-hopping security service men trampled more precious and exotic plants.

“The Queen's own flock of flamingos, which security staff insisted should be moved in case they flew into the helicopter rotors, are thought to be so traumatised after being taken to a ‘place of safety’ that they might never return home. The historic fabric of the Palace was also damaged as high-tech links were fitted for the US leader and his entourage during his three-day stay with the Queen.

“The Palace's head gardener, Mark Lane, was reported to be in tears when he saw the scale of the damage. ‘The Queen has every right to feel insulted at the way she has been treated by Bush,’ said a Palace insider. ‘The repairs will cost tens of thousands of pounds but the damage to historic and rare plants will be immense. They are still taking an inventory.’

"The lawns are used for royal garden parties and are beautifully kept. But, 30,000 visitors did not do as much damage as the Americans did in three days. Their security people and support staff tramped all over the place and left an absolute mess. It is particularly sad because the Queen Mother loved to wander in the garden just as the Queen and Prince Charles do now. Some of the roses, flowers and shrubs damaged are thought to be rare varieties named after members of the Royal Family and planted by the Queen Mother and Queen. Other Royals had their own favourite parts of the garden as children and some of those areas have been damaged."

“The Queen's insurers have told her she is covered for statues, garden furniture and plants she personally owns, but the bill for repairing damage to the lawns and the structure of the Palace will probably have to be picked up by the Government.

“The Americans made alterations to accommodate specialised equipment. The mass of gadgetry meant the Royals couldn't get a decent TV picture during the visit.”

In clearing up some files in my old e-mail programme, I came across the following question from Sam Andres: “We have an indoor Azaela which is now in full bloom. The blooms are healthy and very pretty, the buds are plentiful but the leaves are falling off constantly. There are no leaves at the base of the plant at all. What am I doing wrong?”

Though this inquiry originally came in February 15 this year, somehow it managed to get buried. Since Sam, as well as others, may experience this situation again soon, I thought it a good time to respond. I think this is a problem of insufficient humidity. The flower buds are set earlier in the year, perhaps when the plant was either outdoors, or even if indoors, the heating was not on, or not as steadily, and there was more humidity in the air. Once the buds are formed, they will open, even if the plant is under stress conditions such as Sam’s was. I think plants shedding leaves are telling us that they need additional humidity. How you do it doesn’t matter; likely the best solution is a mix of two or three of the following. 1) Add a humidifier to the furnace that improves the dry air problem for the humans as well as the plants. 2) Keep a collection of plants within close proximity of each other, and set on a 3 cm (1¼”) layer of gravel in a tray which you keep partially filled with water at all times (the pots should never actually sit in the water). 3) Mist the plant with water using a spray bottle, at least four times daily. 4) If all else fails, try covering the suffering plant at night completely with a clear plastic bag (such as from a dry cleaner) and spray water in it before tying the closure. The bag may be removed most days and put back on each evening.

Over the past several months on numerous occasions, I have been in touch with Rachel Flood of Cambridge, Ontario, as well as with her husband. Rachel is a member of the board of the Canadian Rose Society and on her behalf her husband Ken is spearheading a revitalization campaign for the CRS. It is gradually coming together and I expect to bring you more details soon. In the meantime, here’s their mission statement.

“The mission of the Canadian Rose Society is to serve as a vital and energetic national resource for all Canadian rose societies and rosarians, providing ongoing expertise, technical advice and information, and education in all matters of rose culture; to improve the art, science, and practice of growing and showing roses; to inspire everyone to understand, appreciate, and enjoy roses in their wondrous variety; to foster eco-friendly gardening practices; to establish and maintain long-term, mutual liaison and equal partnership with rosarians and rose societies throughout the country; to maximize the benefits of membership to all who join the society; to be recognized nationally as the leading Canadian organization encouraging and demonstrating excellence in rose culture with a nationwide network of dedicated CRS rosarians actively devoted to informing and inspiring Canadians in the garden; and to ensure the long-term stability and dynamic, proactive effectiveness of the Canadian Rose Society.”

Congratulations to Ken and Rachel!


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