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In life, Charlie Chaplin was universally famous for his unparalleled slapstick adventures on the silver screen.  He was equally infamous for an extremely colorful and vigorous personal life which featured countless flapper lovers.  However, it is perhaps less well known that his zany misadventures continued beyond the grave. 

After knowing every manner of success, Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin died at the ripe age of 88 on Christmas Day 1977.  He was interred in Corsier-Sur-Vevey Cemetery, in Vaud, Switzerland at a funeral held by his widow the Lady Oona Chaplin (née O’Neill) whom he had married when he was 54 and she was 18.

Chaplin's Stolen Coffin

A few months after the funeral, two eastern European mechanics dug up Chaplin’s coffin—along with his body—and made off with both.  After sending a picture of the coffin to his widow, the villains called her to demand a ₤400,000 ransom and to threaten her children.  However they were no match for Lady Oona, who angrily stated, “Charlie would have thought it ridiculous.”  She kept the grave robbers tied up in phony price negotiations while the Swiss police department zeroed in on the pay phone they were calling from.   The two were apprehended in Lausanne, Switzerland, and, on May 17th, 1978, they led the police to where they had reburied the actor’s remains.

Lausanne Switzerland is unbelievably beautiful.

Today Charlie Chaplin is once again peacefully interred in his grave at Corsier-Sur-Vevey.  However his coffin is covered by a 1.8 meter concrete plug in order to prevent him from straying.  Thanks to the grave robbers, even when the zombie apocalypse comes, we will never again relive the hijinks of the little tramp.

This is a Look of Silent Horror

It is now the middle of May and the spring plants are giving way to summer plants.  The tulips, crocuses, and muscari are long gone.  My iris never deployed–a few sad little shoots stuck their heads up–but there was no regal purple bearded head.  Unfortunately I don’t have peonies or lilacs.  But who cares?  It’s rose season now and the rose is truly the queen of flowers.

The end of May and the entirety of June are the apex of rose season.  For people with antique English and French roses this is the only time they get to see their flowers bloom (but what magnificent fulsome flowers!).  During the eighteenth century, however, European traders discovered that Chinese gardeners had entirely different rose species!  Chinese roses were smaller than the European roses and less fragrant, but they possessed the ability to bloom and bloom again throughout summer, into late autumn and even early winter.  Additionally their buds grew deeper in color as the flowers bloomed (unlike traditional European roses which faded and discolored immediately after opening).

My roses are all hybrid perpetuals: they bloom throughout the season and possess the best traits of European and Chinese roses.  Modern Rose breeders have created all manner of new colors, shapes, and smells to delight the senses.  The fashions in roses change from year to year and from decade to decade.  Roses are everybody’s favorite flower—they are a big business with their own festivals and awards and inner circles.  Whatever your tastes are, there was a period when rose breeders sought to appeal to them and there are breeders out there now working on even grander results.

The two photos in this article are pictures I took of my newest rose, a beautiful orange floribunda “Gingersnap” introduced in 1978.  Curiously 3 of my 4 roses were introduced in 1977 & 1978 (Double Delight–1977, Gingersnap–1978, & Pristine–1978).  Apparently that was the era of rose cultivation which appeals to me most (which seems ironic–since that era is in an infamous subject of laughter for fashionistas).

My garden--two days ago!

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