|Rebecca, 2005 - R. 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher' 30 July 2022|
Rosemary and I could never get excited over Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’. We had no connection to it nor did the flower have a face. Some years ago that plant was declared Perennial of the Year.
My Delaware friend, Alex Summers, sometime in 1967, was working on a mimeograph machine to print a journal for the American Penstemon Society. He thought [I know because Summers told me this in person], “I hate the smell of these solvents and I am not even interested in penstemons.” Shortly after, he started the American Hosta Society.
I cannot look at any hosta in my garden and not see Summers’ face or the faces of the many hybridizers of the plants that I have met through the years. Then there are the names of hostas which connect me to my past. As an example, Hosta ‘Strip Tease’ reminds me of the many years I enjoyed that scene in Vancouver.
The same happens with roses. They have a face, perhaps of the owner of the garden where you might have seen that rose for the first time. This was the case with the single hybrid tea rose, Rosa ‘Mrs. Oakley Fisher’. I saw her at least 17 years ago in the garden of former and now gone president of the Vancouver Rose Society, Janet Wood.
I was leaving her after a pleasant visit when on the gate out I spotted this yellow rose. I asked and was told, “That’s Mrs. Oakley Fisher.” I then immediately said, “I am going to go home and make a large and strong mug of Earl Grey Tea. I will toast a slice of bread and spread unsalted butter and apricot jam.” This I did!
Yellow as well as orange were problem colours for my Rosemary who liked blues and whites in our garden. She warmed up to Mrs. Oakley Fisher as she was not one of those complex and much too colourful hybrid teas. Mrs. Oakley Fisher was a delicate five-petal rose.
Not long after I photographed our granddaughter Rebecca with the rose and her Mexican sailor dress.
The rose did well in our Kerrisdale garden. But she did not seem to like Kitsilano and she finally died. Both Rosemary and I became sad. Sometime in November 2020, weeks before Rosemary died she told me that I would need at least three large Vietnamese terracotta pots (they handle our winters well) and a couple of bags of dirt.
Rosemary died on December 9 and sometime at the end of February there was a knock at my door. I was being delivered a package with three roses from Palatine Roses back East. One was Mrs. Oakley Fisher and the others were two other singles, R. ‘Escimo’ and R. ‘Olivier Rollinger’. The two other singles prospered to the day. Mrs. Oakley Fisher died. I was distraught.
I ordered three of them from an Oregon nursery last year. Two promptly did not make it to this year.
My little healthy Mrs. Oakley Fisher had two open blooms today and the promise of many more.
And yes, Mrs. Oakley Fisher has Rosemary and Rebecca’s face on her.