Rosa 'Hansa' - Alexandra ElizabethTuesday, May 29, 2007
The Hanseatic League was an alliance of trading guilds that established and maintained a trade monopoly over the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and most of Northern Europe for a time in the Late Middle Ages and the early modern period, between the 13th and 17th centuries. The member cities where either called Hanseatic cities or Hansa cities.
The German automobile company, The Borgward Group made cars called Hansas and the beautifully named Borgward Isabella and Arabellas of the 50s and 60s. They also made a Hansa 1100 that was efficient looking (the kindest word I can cook up). I remember it in the streets of Mexico City in the early 60s. The company went bankrupt in 1961 and for a while Mexico built Borgwards in the middle 60s.
In one of the contemporary rose bibles, Classic Roses - Peter Beales, Beales describes Rosa 'Hansa':
Schaum and Van Tol Holland 1905
Very free flowering. Double, highly scented, reddish-purple flowers. Vigorous, medium-sized plant with dark green foliage. Excellent red fruit. This is one of the best all-round Rugosas.
When my daughter gave me this rose three years ago I wondered why she had not picked (if it was to be a hybrid rugosa) a rose with a name like Lady Curzon, Sir Thomas Lipton or even Jens Munk. Hansa? That's not a name to slip one into nostalgic romance. But some further investigation into my memory (those Hansa cars in Mexico) and a little thought about the Hanseatic League convinced me that Schaum and Van Tol of Boskop had a legitimate reason to call such a beautiful rose by that deceptively mundane name. Enterprising and forward looking Dutch cities had been members of the League.
Much in the same way that in yesterday's posting I played the game of equating a plant/flower to my daughter Hilary I began to think of which one reminded me of my other daughter Alexandra Elizabeth (Ale, pronounced as in Alexandra after removing the xandra).
What is readily evident is that the plant that reminds me of Ale picked me and not the other way around. And that is the way that it should be. From the very beginning Ale was an independent soul and when her sister came along we dedicated a lot of time and attention to the more clingy Hilary. It is only many years later that as parents we realized that independent children need as much attention even if they don't ask for it. It is for this reason that Ale is more of a mystery to me than Hilary.
But she is efficient and dependable when efficiency and dependability are called for. In this way she is Rosa 'Hansa'. Rosa 'Hansa' is a cast iron rugosa and like all cast iron rugosas it will bloom with no care, in poor soil and adverse conditions. And rugosas are healthy and resent the care of sprays of any kind.
In the first year Hansa did not bloom even though I fertilized her and gave her water and all the care I could. Could Hansa be as unpredictable and independent as Ale is? I believe so.
Ale tends to dress in understated ways and buys most of her clothing at the Sally Anne. You just might not notice her. But every once in a while, she will dress up and with the exquisite manners and bearing she inherited from my mother she will take your breath away in the same way Hansa did this morning when I noticed her colour and her scent.
Hansa's scent cleared my memory of smells like my breakfast tea and bread, like a scrub brush. The perfume went to my brain like a laser.
Yesterday afternoon Ale was my left hand as I photographed a woman for the Reader's Digest on Granville Island. Her efficiency with my equipment while at the same time making my subject relax reflects her multi talents.
We are upset that she is abandoning her Vancouver teaching career for the uncertainty of Lillooet, B.C. where she will live on an acre in a little house, Rosemary says is a shack. The weather is one of extremes as it is a zone 4. Ale, who has several green thumbs will have a more restricted pallette of plants to chose from. But like Rosa 'Hansa' she will prosper (rugosas do just fine in zone 4).
The only problem to be resolved is: Where will I find a Hansa to give to Ale?