|Rosa 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher'|
It came to mind with a melancholy tinged with a small smile on my part when a long slim package delivered by a courier arrived on Thursday March 4th.
Quite a few years ago I visited the then President of the Vancouver Rose Society, Janet Wood in her corner garden in Southlands. After a prolonged visit upon leaving I spotted a warm yellow single rose. I asked Wood its name. She said, “It is Rosa Mrs. Oakley Fisher.” Upon a further look of the rose I told her, “I am going home to make myself a large mug of Earl Grey tea. I will put some bread to toast and spread umsalted butter and apricot jam on it. That is what this rose has inspired me to do.” That was probably in 2002. By 2003 we had her in our garden. This was a learning curve for Rosemary who disdained flowers that were yellow, orange and even red. She always loved white or blue (a rare colour in the botanical kingdom). But one of her most endearing qualities for me was that she was a snob.
By the time we had acquired Rosa ‘Leander’,‘Westerland’ and a mystery rose we rescued from a nearby demolition, she was okay with orange. The mystery rose was identified by Select Roses owner Brad Jalbert who when he visited our garden said, “I never thought I would ever find Rosa ‘All That Jazz’ in your garden!
Both Rosemary and I fell in love with Mrs. Oakley Fisher, a 1921 single Hybrid Tea Rose with which I took an iconic portrait of our granddaughter Rebecca in 2003.
When we moved to our little Kits duplex in 2016 we brought some of our roses (many went to our daughter Ale’s garden in Lillooet. We planted Mrs. Oakley Fisher but she was not happy with the move and finally succumbed in the spring of 2020.
The long slim package, from Palatine Roses in Ontario, contained three roses. One was Mrs. Oakley Fisher. The other two are Rosa ‘Escimo’ and ‘Olivier Roellinger. I checked the hardiness zone for these two and noted Rosa ‘Escimo’ (previously called Eskimo!) is for zone 6A while Olivier Roellinger is 5B. Neither would grow in Lillooet. The message here is that Rosemary picked these two roses for our garden to be company for Mrs. Oakley Fisher as they are similar in shape.
|Rosa 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher'|
Come May I will look at Mrs. Oakley Fisher and smile at the continuum in my life that she represents. The other two will be surprises that I will invariably connect with the loss of my Rosemary who must have smiled (with a bit of irony) when she ordered them and did not tell me anything. She ordered them in late September. She must have by then suspected that they would be a posthumous gift to me.
Mysteriously (but now I know) Rosemary asked me in October to buy two bags of dirt and a medium sized terracotta pot.Today I had to buy a third. All three roses are planted.