This time of year, my morning ritual usually includes several cups of coffee, the reliable warmth of Buddy (my bulldog) laying at or on my feet under the kitchen table, and a walkabout to greet the day, the garden, greenhouse, chickens and orchard. Some days I meander, other days I peruse my weedy kingdom from the porch and quickly move onto the tasks, chores, duties and dalliances of the day.
A few days ago I was heading down to the orchard to check out fruit-set on my apple trees and to do a little watering. Buddy was unmoved (on so many levels) and chose to stay put and guard his bed and food bowl in the house. As I made my way to the water spigot, I dodged brambles, tall grass, and cottonwood saplings that had taken over the pathway in a few short weeks. I think Prince Phillip may have had an easier time finding Sleeping Beauty through a maze of thorns, than I did locating and accessing a mere orchard faucet. If only my apple trees grew as quickly.
Heading back to the orchard, I spied two reddish orbs poking up through an overgrown thicket. Upon closer inspection, I was amazed to find an abandoned potted rose bush fighting its way skyward through the blackberry canes, bracken ferns and lush undergrowth. I said, “Well, hello old friend. What a pleasant surprise.”
About seven years ago, I kept my potted treasures behind the deer fence in this area. Apparently I left an old garden rose behind when I moved things up to my greenhouse. And not just any old garden rose, but my friend Karin’s favorite rose, which she had originally planted near the house in an area unfortunately favored by grazing deer. She selected this rose for its pure rose fragrance, adding “A rose should really smell like a rose.” And this one did; so lush a fragrance it reminded me of hugging my grandmother and being enveloped in the warmth of her embrace and the rose scent of perfume and dusting powder.
In trying to protect this precious old rose, I had unwittingly abandoned it. The poor little tangle of twigs survived six or seven years without supplemental water in a plastic pot choked with weedy interlopers. The plucky little plant’s roots must have escaped the pot via drainage holes, which likely saved it. For now I will take cuttings, clear the area, keep it watered, and wait for the shrub to go dormant in the fall before moving it to a better place.
I’m not sure what cultivar the rose is, but I have two guesses, based on bloom, scent, color and thorniness: Mme Isaac Pereire or Rose de Rescht. What matters most to me is that this lovely souvenir of my friend, the former lady of the house, survives and even thrives in the wilds of a neglected swale. In taking time to smell the roses, this rose, I revisit a friend and am given a second chance to cultivate her memory and bring back her rose to her beloved gardens.
If you have a guess as to what rose it may be, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.