Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making new rosarians

As much as we are addicted to roses, I think we may not fully realize the power of roses to seduce and enthrall and eventually to overcome. I have just come to this conclusion because of the ease with which it happened to a friend. A dear friend and co-worker (you know the type, stoutly independent and convinced of her convictions) is my case in point. When I would talk about roses (which was rare because of lack of interest), she would say that the only rose she wanted was a wild one that grew in the woods. She said one day she would go out and dig one up and plant it on her fence. She was not interested in cultivated roses (except for 'Mr. Lincoln') even after I showed her photos of Mermaid and others. Her interests were her husband, her horses, her dogs, her chickens, her home renovations. Roses were way under her radar.

Time passed, and my attempt in October, 2009 to obtain two more copies of the China/Tea rose, 'Le Vesuve', resulted in my having two of 'Jean Bach Sisley' instead, growing by my back patio. Misidentified roses are a natural part of buying roses, I suppose, but my disappointment was compounded by the knowledge that I had to dig them up and plant again. I really do hate to discard a rose. It feels heartless and wrong unless there's a good reason. So in the spring I asked Bonnie if she'd be interested in these roses. If she was, I'd repot them for her. To my surprise, she said yes, and after nursing them for a while, which gave her time to prepare the bed with her own composted horse manure, I gave them to her. She loved them, and they have done well. Then last fall I had had enough of Climbing White Maman Cochet. (A word to the wise: don't ever plant one in an 8' wide alley.) I asked her again if she wanted my cast-off and showed her a photo. "Oh, yes!" So I cut her down to a few 4' canes, saved as much root system as I could (no root balls in sandy Florida) and brought it to work in a 20-gallon pot. She planted her where she was free to be big, and I've gotten good reports ever since. Then a couple of weeks ago she said she was preparing a large bed in front of her house for more roses. I suggested my favorite nursery and then remembered I had some roses at home but no place to plant them, so I mentioned to her my 'Duchesse de Brabant' (grown from a cutting), 'Pink Gruss an Aachen' and a baby 'Le Vesuve' that I had started in September. A few days later when I asked if tomorrow was a good day to bring them in, she said "Oh, I thought you were just telling me what to buy. Oh, yes, tomorrow would be great."

Those 'Jean Bach Sisley's weren't the wrong roses. I was the wrong owner. My friend, who once thought she didn't want cultivated roses, was the right owner, and now she owns six of them, six Old Garden Roses spreading their joy to another garden. I'll venture to say that it won't be too long before she'll be giving away cuttings and making more rosarians.


  1. What a great story. Passing on plants we love is part of the fun of gardening.

  2. More evidence of the contagion of rose love! It's a good thing.
    By the way, Sherry, my daughter just walked up and said "wow" to your garden photo on the top. I've been trying to get her garden interest sparked, so thanks! She is very impressed with your beautiful front yard.

  3. Tell her, Thank You, Sandra. Obviously, if I can have a blooming garden, anyone can garden to whatever degree they want and be successful - especially with a gardening mom to guide them.

  4. Yes, those sneaky little Trojan Horses get under our skin. Beware gardeners bearing gifts for walls start to fall!