Plants & their FacesThursday, April 30, 2020
|Janet Wood (holding Rosa 'Dainty Bess') and Dennis Yeomans
My Rosemary and I have kept ourselves sane these days of quarantine by working (piddling?) in our deck garden and in the back lane where we have managed to plant 9 roses in front of our garage door. The garage is not a garage anymore but my office and tiny photo studio.
It is impossible to look at most of our plants without me seeing a face in them. Many of my hostas have been hybridized by gardeners I met in past American Hosta Society Conventions that Rosemary and I used to attend.
It is the same with roses particularly the ones that I discovered in other local rosarians’ gardens.
A week back the first rose in our garden was this long named one Rosa sericea ssp.omiensis f. ptercantha. But a close second was a little patio rose called Rosa 'Emily Louise.'
|Rosa 'Emily Louise' 4 May 2020
It was years ago that I saw this miniature rose that almost does not look like a rose in Janet Wood’s (Former president of the Vancouver Rose Society who died some years ago) garden. I had to have it so she ordered it for us. Alas it died a year ago and my friend, Portland baroque bassist Curtis Daily brought us one hidden in his Prius.
One rose that gave up the ghost is the single tea rose, 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher'. Fortunately at the very least I have the record of this lovely photograph of our granddaughter Rebecca wearing one.
|Rebecca Stewart & Rosa 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher'
When I first saw it the entrance of Wood’s garden I was dazzled. She told me what it was. I immediately countered with , “I am going to go home and make myself a large mug of Earl Grey tea and I will toast some bread and serve it with unsalted butter and apricot jam.” And I did. Of course, in this day and age, the possibility of securing another Mrs. Oakley Fisher is almost a tough impossibility.
When we moved from our large Kerrisdale garden four years ago I rented a big van and took most of my Gallicas and a large Rosa glauca to my eldest daughter’s property in Lillooet. The Gallicas have prospered but the glaucas have multiplied like there is no tomorrow. Why did I ever purchase that original glauca? It is because I saw it as a tree on Dennis Yeomans’s garden.
We now have a glauca in our garden with a little story behind it. Quite a few years ago my friend Alleyne Cook (the man who planted all those rhododendrons in Stanley Park) and I visited his friend Bill Forsythe (his former boss at the Park’s Board) who had a terrific and very large garden in Surrey with all sorts of old roses. I spotted a glauca with unusually large flowers and asked. Forsythe answered, “It is a cross between Rosa 'Dainty Maid' (the rose that David Austin used to mate with Belle Isis to make his first English Rose, Rosa 'Constance Spry') and glauca. He then gave a small plant to Cook, to my chagrin. I was not able to ever get an answer from Cook, before he died last year, as to what had happened to his plant.
Last year at a visit to Free Spirit Nursery in Langley Rosemary spotted a plant called Rosa ‘Bill’s Rose’. How the folks at Free Spirit got it we don’t know. Perhaps it was through Christine Allen who used to provide Free Spirit with roses. When I told the Free Spirit folks the story of Bill’s Rose I received a call from Allen who has now been able to register the rose.
And all the above cements why sometimes when I look at some of Rosemary’s perennials I see no faces of anybody and unlike many roses there is no story behind them.
Luckily our garden has many faces and of that I am thankful.
And one very large plant (almost a tree) is Rosa complicata. Many years ago Alleyne Cook came to my garden with a small rose in a pot. He told me, almost rudely, "If you are going to have roses in the garden you are going to have to have this one." It traveled well to our new Kits garden and it loves to be where it is.