Country diary: this first wild rose will not be pigeon-holed

Crook, County Durham: Today’s sweet briar could be the mongrel offspring of a dog rose – they hybridise so easily

Spring, so eagerly anticipated, so riotous, has sashayed into summer. All that remains of crab apple, hawthorn and rowan blossom lies as petal confetti on the pavement. The blackcap in the copse I walk past daily is subdued, its melodious courtship tempered now by the caution of a parent with a brood to protect. Dandelion clocks alongside footpaths have blown away, replaced by frothy cow parsley.

For meteorologists, summer begins on 1 June. Astronomically, summer solstice, 20 June, is the magical date. But the natural transition between seasons defies precise measurement. It is the accumulation of countless small events and today, on my morning walk, one such was the blooming of the first wild rose of summer. But which wild rose? There are many. In the few places locally where it can be found, the first is always burnet rose, Rosa pimpinellifolia, easily identified by its ferocious, dense prickles, creamy blooms and intense fragrance. No matter what Shakespeare’s Juliet might have asserted, no native rose by any other name smells as sweet.

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