And now a slight digression into personal background. My father’s side of the family is a recent addition in the US, as my great-great grandparents migrated from England via Canada around the turn of the Twentieth Century, and my grandparents hopped the border during the Great Depression in a search for work. In fact, my grandfather secured US citizenship for the whole family by serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, and my father was born in Michigan shortly before the US entered the war. (That’s right: according to the dubious logic of a certain anencephalic US Representative in the district next to mine, I’m an anchor baby. Better stay on my good side, or we’ll all join forces and bomb the Baldwins again.)
It was the matter of discovering why my family made the move from England that soured me on the current attempts to turn Guy Fawkes Day, much like El Dia de los Muertos, into another “hipster Halloween”. My family was extremely Catholic back then, and the constant reminder every year of Gunpowder Treason and the subsequent state-approved Catholic bigotry was a deciding factor in a lot of families like mine deciding to move to more supportive (or at least less judgmental) climes. As I try to explain to well-meaning Americans whose knowledge of the whole Gunpowder Treason begins and ends with watching the movie adaptation of Alan Moore’s and David Lloyd’s graphic novel V For Vendetta, “I’m not saying that wishing ‘have a happy Guy Fawkes Day’ is as offensive to a British Catholic as wishing ‘have a happy Krystallnacht’ would be to a German Jew. I’m just saying that a lot of my relatives in the past would have punched out every last tooth in your mouth for saying it.”
(Admittedly, my family comes originally from both sides of the England/Scotland border, and many wouldn’t have needed a reason for a bit of the old ultraviolence on an unsuspecting Sassenach. This is a family where the filthiest four-letter words you could ever utter at a social gathering are “Last Call”.)
With that said, I’ll actually say something good about Guy Fawkes Day, and how it applies to horticulture. It’s underappreciated and often ignored, but I can thank the appropriation of Guido Fawkes in V For Vendetta for introducing many an unknowing comics fan to roses. Specifically, trust Alan Moore to popularize the otherwise insanely obscure rose cultivar “Violet Carson“, just to be obscure. Forget black orchids, man-eating plants, or Pink Bunkadoos: this is a fantastical plant you can actually own. Those who regularly care for roses can appreciate some of Fawkes’s sentiments, too, as the annual cleaning and shaping occasionally makes me want to get thirty-six barrels of gunpowder and blast them into low-Earth orbit.
Thusly, no political comment or social comment is made with the following image. For everyone trying to get their tea roses to behave, though, or to keep their miniature roses from applying for UN citizenship before taking over the rest of the planet, we can all appreciate the sentiment.