Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why roses?

I read and posted to a link on Garden Buddies regarding roses and their names. The thread there sparked my blog here. I copied and pasted some of what I wrote there in this post.

I've had roses in my own garden since 2004, when my husband and I bought our home. I found one on the property, newly planted, with the tag still on it. It was John Cabot. I moved it, b/c we planned to build a deck where it was. It thrived, and the same week I ran out and bought my own roses. As soon as I could, despite it being a hot and humid July, and my being 7 months pregnant at the time, I was building my rose garden.

I didn't do any research. I don't think it even occured to me that roses needed added care in my climate. I just bought some. I had a nice topiary tree rose Europeana, a climber called Sally Holmes that made it 6 feet high that summer. I also picked up Kordes Perfecta, another white one who's name I've lost, and Morden Centennial. At some point that year my mom gave me an older rose magazine that told me how to protect them in the winter. I followed the directions, added extra mulch, stopped pruning in September. My baby was born in October, and the winter came.

Come I lost the topiary, of course. And the Sally Holmes died for unknown reasons. But, my John Cabot, Morden Centennial, and Kordes perfecta came back wonderfully. More alive than dead equalled success: I must have done something right, and I was hooked!

I have always had roses in the yards I've lived in. I spent most of my childhood time in my grandmother's backyard, where she grew a line of roses along the fence, and more in the front yard. I followed her around as she watered. I asked her questions. She taught me to pull off the yellow leaves, which usually fell off in my hand anyway, and to throw them in the trash, not on the ground by the roses. She taught me to cut just above the 5 leaf stem when I remove a bloom. She let me water for her, giving her roses a good long drink. I remember her telling me some of the names of the roses, including Double Delight, and French Perfume. But this was almost 30 years ago...

Later, when adolescence was over and I was less distracted, I paid more attention to my grandmother and my mother's rose garden. My mom finally had her own yard, and she grew roses on cottage style arbors in her back yard, and also in her front yard. I used to get in close to smell each one. My husband even proposed to me with red rose petals & long stem red roses from our front yard to our bed (three stories high) that year. When we were married I had a red rose bouquet, my bridesmaids had white roses, and our cake was covered in red rose buds--a perfect Christmas wedding flower, but hard to come by in Southern California during the week of preperation for the Tournament of Roses Parade!

I longed to just garden, but I was in graduate school studying Communication Studies, and I had no yard, no porch, and no time. I stuck a few mini roses in a window-sill height planter box in my kitchen window, and they grew and bloomed again and again all year. I doted on them. Looking back, they were like my teaching roses. I studied their anatomy, learned their habits, and learned if I loved them, they would love me right back. So, once we had our own home, roses were obvisouly the first thing I went for.

The roses I grew up with, my my grandmother's garden were mostly high fragrant, hybrid tea roses, perfectly content in the zone 9/10 climate of southern california. I've set myself on a quest to grow as many of the roses she grew/grows in my garden here in Wisconsin. I want to grow the roses I grew up with. Trouble is, my grandma doesn't remember the name of her roses unless you say it to her; then it rings a bell. The labels are all long gone.

A month or so ago I asked a rose garden forum on the web to help me recognize one of her roses from a photograph I took last fall when I visited California. A wonderful lady named Sue correctly identified it. As soon as I asked my grandma if she remembered, "Royal Highness!" She said, "Yes, I remember. That is one I have! I remember when I bought all these roses thinking they had such fancy names!" In that phone call she also recalled "French Perfume" and "Tropicana."

Since then, my grandma and I have named about 11 of her 28 roses. She has: Royal Highness, Tropicana, French Perfume, Double Delight, Queen Elizabeth, Peace Mr. Lincoln, Christian Dior, Climbing Don Juan, Kordes Perfecta, and a new one from my mom, Tuscan sun.
Oddly enough, as we name then, I'm finding I already have many of them in my garden. It's almost like I internalized her roses & their scents as a little girl, and instinctively know a rose she's had when I see it. Just this week we were on the phone and she was describing a rose with both dark and light pink in it, with some creamy white. I started guessing on the phone and as we're talking she found her old rose book and saw she had marked Kordes Perfecta in it. She marked it with an "x" possibly 20 years ago; she looked down at her book, and said, "this looks like it here in my book, and I marked it, so this must be it."
I have two Kordes Perfecta in my yard, and it's my favorite rose. She was delighted to hear I had this rose, too. She simply can't believe I grow the same roses as her.
Aren't roses amazing?
I can't leave without posting a few of my pictures from the last week. Again, I want to point out that these are potted roses I have bought this spring; my existing roses are still making flower buds. I went out today and made a list. I have flower buds coming on:
1 of my Double Delight
1 of 3 Mr. Lincoln
and unamed white rose
Brother Cadfael
1 of my Christian Dior
2 of 3 Cl. Golden Showers
Kordes Perfecta
my mytery rose (came in a bare root package with Love, a 2 for 1 accident)
And my two cane hardy roses are packed with blooms. I had nothing else to do while my boys played this morning and I counted a whopping:
267 blooms on Morden Centennial
400 on John Cabot
My mouth was dropped open, too.
Here's a bouquet of Distant Drums, Christian Dior, & Kordes Perfecta. They just needed to be picked, so I put them together.
Christian Dior
Proud Land
Distant Drums is still putting on a show. The stem on which I pinched the first spent rose is already making another flower bud. I sure hope this rose stays this productive, it'll be a fast favorite of mine.
Happy Rose Gardening

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