The Ghosts In Our GardenTuesday, July 20, 2010
Last year Rebecca and I gave a talk (two days) at the first ever World Rose Convention here in Vancouver. I wrote about it here. Today our audience will be smaller but no less interesting. Our talk will be during the monthly meeting of the Vancouver Rose Society. It is a society that has been growing strong since the late 40s but of late I notice that most of the members are at least as old as I am. There are no young people.
It is my feeling that if you get children involved, then as youths and as young adults, they will participate in these activities that seem to be relegated to old fogies like me.
Rebecca has been interested in roses because I gently got her involved from the time she was around 4. I found out that children, paradoxically, may not be interested in the cutesy of gardening but will be inclined to show interest if the explanations are historical. They can be whimsical but there has to be some reality.
It was when Rebecca was around 6 that I showed her an Angel record cover of Jacqueline du Pré. It was a recording of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor. I played some of it and explained to Rebecca that the woman had ceased to play long before she died because she had Multiple Sclerosis. English rose grower, Jack Harkness had approached the bed-ridden du Pré in the late 80’s with some roses. She asked her to live with them and then to pick her favourite. Harkness introduced her pick in 1989 and that was the very rose that Rebecca saw in the garden. Her interest in roses began then because roses had the faces of people on them.
Sometimes those people are unknown and their names are mysterious. Such is Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’ one of Rebecca’s and my favourite roses. We sometimes wonder who Madame Pierre Oger was to have had a beautiful Bourbon rose named after her, and yet her name is that of her husband’s. Another mysterious woman Mrs. Oakley Fisher, at least did not have to ride on her husband's trug. Rebecca can tell you the story of other roses in her garden or in my garden. I suspect that her interest in roses will not wane because the passion is there.
Our talk tonight is called “The People In Our Garden." Many of the photographs of garden people I have photographed through the years are of gardeners who are now dead. I tell Rebecca that not only do roses remind us of people but the very people that they remind us of are sometimes ghosts in our garden.