Rose Survivors

A little potted rose ‘rescued’ when my mom lived in a care facility. Gifted to her, these little roses would soon dry up and I’d take them home for life support!

Are there roses in your life?  There is scientific evidence that rose petals have healing properties and rose hips (fruit of the rose) are packed with vitamin C and other goodies. Rose flower essence is calming, uplifting and used especially for helping one through difficult times of trauma and depression. Perhaps this flower of love is needed in abundance in all our lives now more than ever!

June, National Rose month, celebrates this flower steeped in lore, legend, symbolism, healing properties and revered in every culture, past and present. Living in the woods with poor soil and lots of shade, growing roses like my mom did (see Mom’s Garden Love Affair) wasn’t something I aspired to do.  But roses came into my life, each with a story of survival and determination and each sweetens the June air with a different scent.  Some of them are subtle, others fill the air with a strong fragrance reminiscent of how I imagine the old rose gardens seen in paintings must have filled the air.

This little pink sweetie is the rose behind, or rather under, the Peace rose given to me 32 yrs. ago by a boy friend. Lovely gift, but tea roses aren’t happy in a woodland environment. It lasted 2-3 seasons (longer than the relationship lasted). After it died I waited. Shoots started to emerge. Eventually this root-stock rose, on which the Peace Rose was grafted, grew into a tall, gangly plant with clusters of little pink roses with floppy petals and a scent so strong – the scent of legends! After researching roses used as root stock, I determined it is rosa manettii. Developed in 1835, (100 years before the Peace) it is rare, used as an understock in 19th century, not so much now. It seems happy here in the woods and one of the few roses I’ve seen pollinators at .

Another surprise rose, this one came from an old farm I rented with a friend for a few years. Probably mowed along with the grass for years, maybe decades, the last mowing I did before moving from the farm I noticed what looked like a little rose sprout in the grass. Digging it up, it moved with me and for 40 years it has bloomed it’s heart out every June for 2 to 3 weeks, depending upon the weather. Though the bush gets big, the blooms are small with a classic rosy scent. It doesn’t tolerate high heat or heavy rains. I have three bushes and it seems like we’ve been together forever!

This soft pink rose grew next to my parent’s driveway in Seattle. At some point it was dug up and given to me. But that was not the end of the story. Though replaced by a winter blooming evergreen bush, the rose made it’s way back up through the bush. Years after Dad died, Mom, who loved roses and may not have been the one to instigate it’s demise, pointed it out to me with a bit of humor, like, “look at that it’s back!” The guy who cared for her yard as she got older again and again cut it down. The last time we took mom to her house, before it sold, on a cold rainy September day, as we got her in the car to leave I looked and there was one pink bloom, sticking out high above the evergreen bush. I could barely reach it. This June blooming rose showed up to say good-bye to the woman who loved roses and all flowers (she had many tea roses out in front of their house). It was magical. No words were spoken as I stood in the rain, picked it, and handed it to Mom.

This last of our old bush roses is another survivor, in fact a bit aggressive and we’ve had our own battles keeping it from growing into our raised beds, etc. I had been given two root starts of this old rose, and both were growing like ‘weeds’.  At one point we needed to remove one to take down an old fence it had consumed, making room for a Rhododendron to grow . We transplanted it but sadly, as vigorous as it was, it didn’t do well in a new location, only a few feet from where it thrived, and it died. Again, like the pink rose at my parents, it showed up after a few years in the same location it had been. We’ve surrender. When we are old (er) and the house is over run with blackberries, morning glory and other weeds, waving their flags of victory, at least every June there will be a rose in amongst the brambles!

Related Posts:

Learn how to make a rose hydrosol from wild roses: Loving the gone-wild ones

And how to make rose jam from rose hips come fall! Spring & Rosy Jam


One thought on “Rose Survivors

  1. Thank you for this delightful post! I could almost smell the roses as I read it. That soft pink rose (such a touching story, sniff sniff) reminds me of the climbing rose Grandpa H had on the chicken house! I loved that rose! xo S

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