My mother was a great lover of roses. One of my earliest memories was of an ongoing battle she had with the family dog and a newly planted rose bush. My mom planted the rose bush in a garden along one side of the house. The dog dug it up. My mom replanted the rose bush, and the dog, a boxer mix, dug it up again.
My mother, not one to give up easily, spanked the dog with the rose bush and replanted it.
That bush did really well and was covered with blooms every year. I can’t remember the color for sure, but I think that they were red. Our dog was so well behaved in the garden for the rest of her life that the story of the rose bush battle took on the stuff of legend. Look at that rose bush, my sister would say. Mom once spanked the dog with that bush!!
Later in her life my mom grew tea roses in her garden that were also the stuff of legend. These shrubs were huge; at least 4 feet high and the producers of really showy blooms; people occasionally knocked on my mom’s door to ask what type of rose they were. I once asked my mom what she did to get her roses to grow and bloom so well. I expected to hear some complicated formula to produce fabulous blooms that featured bone meal, wood ashes, and who knows what else… Nope. It was a really, really easy routine. Feed the roses Miracle Gro fertilizer every week, prune them once a month, and if they didn’t respond satisfactorily rip the shrub out and go buy another one. My mom, an agent of evolution in her rose garden. Who knew her success was partly due to ruthless natural selection? That earlier incident with the dog should have tipped us off!
Now I grow roses. I feed them Miracle Gro, prune them after each blooming, protect them from early frosts, mulch them with care. They are doing well, but not as well as my mom’s did. I tell myself that is because I live in a different climate from the one where she grew her show-stopping roses, but the truth is she had quite a gift for rose growing. Anyway, here are my favorites.
The pink rose on the left is Princess Alexandra of Kent, the yellow rose is Charles Darwin, and the one on the right is Hot Cocoa. I just love the English roses for their shape and scent, but they don’t do that well in my climate. The Hot Cocoa rose is hardier and handles the heat and low humidity better. Anyway, don’t they look nice?
Wait. I have more roses!
These roses are more like the wild ones that grow in our mountains. The one on the left is a Home Run, and the one on the right is a Cinco de Mayo rose. I love these guys; simple, hard-working and favorites with the bees. They handle the climate here well and flourish in the long dry summers.
I do have more roses, but you get the idea. There are rose bushes along the driveway, at the front of the house, in all the flower beds in the back yard, and even in pots in the house. You can never have too many roses is kind of a motto of mine.
I grow the roses for myself, but I also grow them for my mom and the other rose growers in my family. My aunt grew roses too and had a huge climber that I envy to this day. For all I know rose growing has been going on for generations in my family. Every single rose shrub, each rose bloom, is a link to the past and a promise of beauty in the future. You can never go wrong with a rose.
My mom died one year early in May after a long battle with cancer. A few days after the funeral was Mother’s Day, and in her memory I planted six red floribunda roses in my front flower bed. Those roses, bright red Showbiz roses, bloomed like my mom herself was taking care of them.
One day someone knocked on my door to ask what they were.
My mom would have been so proud!!