A Paean to Rosemary - the Complete Gardener
Saturday, July 31, 2021
|Rosa 'Shropshire Lad' & Hosta 'Antioch' 30 July 2021|
Eight months have passed since I lost my Rosemary. Things
are not all that good but thankfully I have four distractions plus the twice
weekly visit of my youngest daughter Hilary.
Those distractions are my two cats, the garden, my now
almost daily blog (I try to keep at it) and scanning my plants.
Scanning the plants, I have come to learn, provides me with
a pleasant pastime without the stress of playing golf which is something I was
never interested in. I wrote about my relationship with golf here. .
|Rosa 'Escimo' & Hosta 'Strip Tease' 31 July 2021|
At first, in 2001, the idea of scanning had one purpose.
This was to accurately record the roses, and soon after most of the plants of
our garden. I was careful to make the colour as true to what I saw and I always
put the date of the plant scanned. I enlarged them in my scanner to 100% size
so that added a good measure of my interest in accuracy.
But now as I fiddle in my comfortable office, many times
with one of my cats in residence on a nearby stool, I am “going artistic”. I
move the leaves this way and that way. And I make more than one version of the
scan. I do alternate scans where I move the leaves and plants around. Note that I purposely looked for young and beautifully reddish rose leaves for the intial scan here.
Of late I have been thinking how when Rosemary and I
started gardening seriously I 1986 we had my garden and her garden. I had my
plants and she had her plants.
It didn’t take long for my persuasive wife to make me
realize that any one type of plant garden was a bore and that botanical
diversity and experimentation was more interesting.
My initial interest in the mono-culture of hostas changed
when Rosemary urged me to accompany her to a meeting of the Vancouver Rose
Society. Then there were meetings of the Alpine Garden Club and others. Rosemary
almost made me a complete gardener.
I believe that my artsy fartsy combination of roses with
clematis, clematis with hosta, etc are also in honour of Rosemary’s interest in
plants big and small, easy ones and difficult ones. Watching her on her knees
or on her bum dealing with dark little corners of the garden with her secateurs
(most of the time she opted for scissors) made me realize that she looked at
plants and the garden overall but also, very important in its minute details.
She is the one who manicured the edges of our plant beds with scissors.
In the almost five years that we have lived in Kitsilano
we realized that if we wanted to have many plants in close quarters we had to
deal with her novel idea of plants with companion plants. In our many roses in
large clay pots she tried (successfully in most cases) lovely little (not to aggressive)
clematis, gray plants and in particular that gray Lychnis coronaria with white
I believe then that my new interest in combining plants
in one scan is a prolonging a fond memory that I have of my Rosemary, the
The single (single in rose parlance means five petals) white rose in the scan here is one of three that Rosemary ordered in October and that arrived in February. One Mrs. Oakley Fisher was in such bad shape that it did not make it. I ordered it from a rose nursery in Oregon called Rogue. They ship to Canada. Perhaps before the fall if it arrives I will be able to scan one.
Beyond the grave - a posthumous gift
Raymond Fleck - Former President of St. Edward's University Now on Lifeguard Duties
Friday, July 30, 2021
|Michael East, Raymond Fleck & Lee Lytton, Austin 2011|
Received from Raymond Fleck when I emailed him. My subject heading
was, Perhaps you are no longer around.
presidents never die; they just lose their faculties. Thanks for checking up on me, Alex. —- Ray 30
I went to the Roman Catholic St. Edward’s High School in
Austin, Texas from 1958 to 1961 as a boarder. It was run by Brothers of Holy Cross, an order
with nuns and priests, that perhaps is better known as it is in charge of Notre Dame in
South Bend, Indiana.
In those four years I cannot name one brother/teacher whom I
did not like. I feared a few, but every one of them prepared me for my life as
an adult (they may have made me a man). What I was not to know then, and I have
come to know, gradually through the years, is how important those teachers were
and how much they taught me. My mother said that perhaps the only thing I might
want to put on my tombstone is, “He died
The Brothers of Holy Cross taught me that in spades
My Brother Fathers Remembered.
I have written many blogs about my life at St. Edward’s and
my relationship with the brothers and specifically with one, Brother Edwin
Reggio, C.S.C. In one of those unlikely events that push time, I met him in
1957, and somehow, not too long ago, he not only socialized with my two granddaughters
but with my wife Rosemary.
Brother Edwin 1
Brother Edwin a surrogate father
More Brother Edwin
The man who was Brother Edwin
For those who might not know what C.S.C. represents there is
Congregatio a Sancta
Cruce (CSC) is a Catholic congregation of missionary priests and brothers
founded in 1837 by Blessed Basil Moreau, in Le Mans, France.
Another long time span event happened to me today. It
involves a man, a former Holy Cross Brother. I first saw him walking to the Old Main
Building at St. Ed’s perhaps at the end of 1957. He was tallish and gaunt. He
wore glasses. He was handsome and elegant. He looked like a physicist (I was
wrong he has a doctorate in chemistry). He seemed remote and cool, almost cold.
This man, Brother Raymond Fleck, was 30 years old and he was the President of
St. Edward’s University (adjacent and part of the high school complex on
Congress Avenue). Not only that, he was also the Religious Superior of all the
Brothers assigned to the high school and the university.
As far as I can tell I never had a spoken interaction with
the man. That changed in 2011.
In 2011, at the 50th reunion of my Class of 6I, I
sat at a table at a dinner next to a friendly looking man, wearing a plad shirt and glasses. He told
me he was Raymond Fleck. He had left the order and had married. We became
This previously (remote to me) man had wangled funds from
the very rich Sarita Kenedy East who owned a million acre ranch. I have no idea
how this man could have done that. Could he have become a used car salesman? I
am sure he could have. Fleck could do anything if he wanted to do it. With the
money he was able to add a new building to the University called East Hall. Few
knew that it was named after Sarita Kenedy East and not given the name for its
location on the campus.
The story of how he managed to get the money is in this blog. This is when I saw him for the second time at a reunion. There is a fine
connection here as Michael East, Class of 62 was a nephew of Kennedy East. In this blog you can see Fleck with East and with that other man, Lee Lytton (now diseased)
who was also part of that King Ranch, etc. connection. In fact one of my most
memorable memories of Lytton taking my wife and two granddaughters to what was
the former main building of Kennedy East’s ranch in Sarita is in the link below.
A ghost at La Parra with Lee Lytton
Having spoken with Fleck today I was consumed by a rush of
emotion realizing the span, 62 years of time from that one day I first saw him. I have no
idea why memory plays so many tricks. Why was it that I remember that moment of
seeing him walk by? Why is it that I remember so many words that those brothers
of Holy Cross said to us in class?
What is patently obvious is that my previousl belief that
Fleck was a remote man was firmly shattered when he told me on the phone, “Alex,
I am going to have to go. My two grandsons are going to the swimming pool so I
have lifeguard duties.”
This from a man who is now 94!
Somehow I believe that one can go home again.
Going Home Again