When a Rose is More than a Rose
Saturday, July 17, 2021
|Rosa 'Abraham Darby' 16 July 2021
Rose of Lima (born
Isabel Flores de Oliva; 20 April 1586 – 24 August 1617) was a member of the
Third Order of Saint Dominic in Lima, Peru, who became known for both her life
of cultivation of beauty and her care of the poverty stricken of the city
through her own private efforts. Saint Rose de Lima was born to a Noble Family
and is the Patron Saint of embroidery, gardening and cultivation of blooming
flowers. A lay member of the Dominican Order, she was declared a saint by the
Catholic Church, being the first person born in the Americas to be canonized as
such.As a saint, Rose of
Lima has been designated as a co-patroness of the Philippines along with Saint
Pudentiana; both saints were moved to second-class patronage in September 1942
by Pope Pius XII, but Rose remains the primary patroness of Peru and of the
local people of Latin America. Her image is featured on the highest
denomination banknote of Peru.
It would seem that all my life the rose has been part of
my life. I started when my mother would invite my friends and relatives to our Buenos
Aires garden, from 1949 on, to celebrate my birthday on August 31. I was born
on that date in 1942 but because of a bureaucratic error my birth certificate
lists the date as April 18 1943.
The problem with celebrating my birthday is that
traditionally around that time at the end of August there is a terrible
downpour called La Tormenta de Santa Rosa de Lima. And it did rain for many of
That was my first rose and she was a pain in the neck.
The second rose to come into my life was Rosemary in
1967. Her name in Spanish, Rosamaría, somehow is more connected to the idea of
a rose for me. In Spanish the name sounds lovelier to my Latin ears.
And yet all these years in which we cultivated roses (we
began with a couple or roses in our Arboledas, Estado the México garden in
1971) I never connected Rosemary’s name with how she was my very own rose.
English Rose, Rosa 'Abraham Darby' is extremely fragrant, some of the blooms can be 7 inches wide, it grows faithfully every year throughout late spring, summer and fall. It is a dependable rose that I can look up to. To me Abraham Darby mimics all the qualities that my Rosemary had. It is a reminder of how lucky I was.
Three From Thirty
Friday, July 16, 2021
|Left, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Fuji Waterfall', centre Hydrangea quercifolia 'Anabelle' and centre bottom Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha' 16 July 2021
We moved from our large corner house and garden in
Kerrisdale almost five years ago because we could not afford the upkeep of the
house which was deteriorating at a rapid rate. The bathrooms leaked and there
was mold and exposed asbestos in the basement. I had a chronic cough perhaps
caused by a combination of the mold and working in an unventilated darkroom.
I pressed Rosemary with the idea that we had to sell and
We did and this broke Rosemary’s heart. She loved her
garden. We had an incredible variety of plants.
We were able to move some of the plants to our daughter’s
property in Lillooet. But of our 30 varieties of species and cultivar
hydrangeas only one, Hydrangea arborescens was hardy in Lillooet at it blooms
from new growth. What do to with the rest?
I tried to suppress then my loss of this plants even if
Rosemary could not. But a sort of late melancholy is affecting me these days.
Hydrangeas have always been special to me as they
proliferated in our Buenos Aires garden. We called them hortensias. I had to pick three of our Kerrisdale
garden hydrangeas to bring to our small Kits property.
I chose Hydrangea
macrophylla ‘Ayesha’because of its curious multiple colour changes when the
blooms age within a season and because the florets remind me of English tea
The second one is a delightful, very shade tolerant Japanese
hydrangea called Hydrangea macrophylla
The third hydrangea was an obvious choice and that was the
Oak Leaf Hydrangea in a double flowered version called Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Annabelle’.
Green & All the Other Colours of the Rainbow
Thursday, July 15, 2021
|Echinacea purpurea 'Green Jewel' 15 July 2021
No matter what I do on any day I am haunted by the presence
of my Rosemary who is no longer with me. The garden (I cannot yet switch from
saying “our garden” to “my garden”) is one of the worst (or I
could say better as the memories can be pleasant). She is in every corner of
it. And last year, perhaps knowing by August that she was not going to survive
the year, she planted stuff in some of our rose pots (as companions) and in
separate pots. Some of them she did not put any labels. There are still some
plants at this date of July 15 that I cannot identify. And there is not one day
in these last three months that I have not been surprised by discovering a
plant I had no idea was in the garden.
Seeing it I can instantly imagine her hand placing it in the
pot while being on her knees with Niño right behind her. Alone I cry. When I
tell others of this I smile.
My eldest daughter, Alexandra, who lives in Lillooet finally
managed to visit with me. She arrived yesterday and there are some plants she was
able to identify.
The one you see here had a label.
My Rosemary had a highbrow approach to the colours of a garden.
She liked greens, blues and whites. She did not like lurid colours and for many
years orange and yellow were banned. She finally did accept red roses and from
there she warmed to some orange and yellow.
But you might ask, “Why
would anybody like an all green flower?” I will admit that the Echinacea in
this scan is striking and just like she warmed up to oranges and yellows, this
plant, in my books is outstanding. Now this particular echinacea is not the one we had two years ago and last year. It as called Green Twister. This year I did my best to replace some of the plants that had not made it from last year. I purchased Green Jewel which I believe is almost y like Green Twister but if you check the link below you will note that the petals of Green Twister have round ends.
Echinacea purpurea 'Green Twister' & Emily Dickinson
And so I will persist this summer to scan the plants and
flowers that make the missing presence of Rosemary a presence in all the
colours of the rainbow.
Halcyon Days that Help Me Avoid that Question
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
|Hosta 'Halcyon' 14 July 2021
Today I reread a blog I wrote about the death of my good
friend Mark Budgen (see link below). Since I write this blog for myself and for strangers I have
no concern on the opinions they may have on that particular blog. While I am no
writer I believe that blog is a well-written glimpse into how my
friend’s view on death, and my own are coinciding little by little.
With perfection diction he said, "I am dying."
Before my Rosemary died on December 9 she may have asked
me what our plans were for the next day or the weekend. We could discuss the
strategies of living without being too concerned with dark subjects like death.
But we did plan and get good advice from the folks of our Kerrisdale Bank of
Montreal on the making of a will. It was almost finished when she died.
Now I am worried about not having worries particularly financial
ones in which Rosemary fixed so that she and I would not have any. My daughters
are fine and will live one should I not be around in the future.
But the real existential thought I have most of the time
is that I am waiting. What am I waiting for? It is easy to just say, “WTD or waiting to die.”
The only way to avoid thinking about this is to find
refuge in distraction. One of them, a most pleasant one, is caring for my
lovely cats that are ready to show me how they appreciate my care for them.
The other distraction is my present obsession in scanning
the plants of the garden. Of late these are all about the elegan hosta flowers. I believe I am beyond doing them with the idea of
making accurate botanical records of them, those that have persisted and those
that are long gone. Of the scans of the plants no more I find comfort in the
images I have of them. These are memories, that while I cannot touch, I do not
have to imagine them. They are visual.
This new page of playing around and making several
versions a the scan of a particular plant is one that immediately puts me into
that thought that I have long wanted to avoid but I have been unable to
exorcise. This is the question, “Am I an
artist?” Are these scans, beyond being accurate images, works of art?
By the time I turn off the lights with Niño and Niña
comfortably near me I find those two questions irrelevant. What counts is that
the scanning is fun to fuss over and it keeps me distracted. Going through the
garden to see what I can snip is part of the fun.
I avoid that persistent thought/question, “What am I waiting for?”
Rosemary's Proliferating Companions
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
|Rosa 'Leander' & unknown Pimpinella variety 16 July 2021
From the vantage point of our dining room table from
where I can see the back of our potted roses outside because of the big plate
glass window I spotted some tiny little yellow flowers growing under one of
Rosemary’s favourite English Roses, Rosa ‘Leander’. Neither my daughter Ale
(visiting me from her home in Lillooet) nor the folks at Southlands Nursery
were able to identify the plant. Rosemary did have a little plant label that
read pimpinella. There are many kinds of pimpinella so what is the complete
name will remain a mystery.
Another mystery that no rose expert has been able to explain
is the phenomenon called proliferation in which a secondary rose appears within
a rose bloom. Some think it ugly. I simply accept that nature has variety.
But best of all is to keep on noticing the little surprises
that Rosemary has left for me in her approach of mating little plants with the
roses. This idea in gardening is called companion plants.
That’s a friendly thought.