Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sentimental Attachments

It is no surprise that one of the reasons we love particular roses, is because of the sentimental attachments they hold.  It may be for such attachments that I keep growing Gertrude Jekyll.  I had to go back and scan these pictures from 1996 of our kids, Anna and Thomas, beside Gertrude.  Gertrude was the first rose I tried pegging, in order to get more blooms along the laterally bent canes.  As you can see it worked, and even if I say so myself, it worked pretty well.
I always find it interesting (when viewing family photos) to see roses in the background.  They are a part of the mood and memory of our lives.  Remembering Anna in kindergarten and Thomas in preschool are the foreground to which I grew my first English Roses.  Angie took these pictures, and it must have been Mother's Day, because I notice the pinned red roses each of them are wearing.  That is a tradition I don't see many people following these days, wearing a rose to honor your mother on Mother's Day.  You wear a red one if they are living and a white one if they are deceased.
In recent years I have been letting Gertrude grow more naturally.  Philosophically, I like to let roses grow as they do by nature.  Left to her own devices, Gertrude Jekyll grows tall, 8 & 1/2 feet tall in the picture below.  This plant is three years old and had been pruned very little.  If Gertrude blooms at the end of her canes, at 8 & 1/2 feet, I won't be able to smell them and I am 6' 2".  So this year I am thinking about pulling those long canes down and pegging them so that I can enjoy her blooms all along the laterally trained canes.  This will take a little courage for two reasons.  First, these canes are strong and while a bit stiff they are just flexible enough to be bent down (think bend not break).
The second reason is that Gertrude Jekyll knows how to defend herself with some of the most vicious thorns of any rose I have grown.  Looking down into the plant, it looks like I could thin down the canes some too, but I really do like to let roses determine how they grow and what they can support so don't expect me to thin it down much. 
So 15 years later, on Mother's Day weekend of 2011, here are those wonderful kids all grown up with their mother and me.  This family we have grown together is what I am most proud of in my life.  With Anna studying in Switzerland this semester, Thomas in his first year of college, and Angie teaching at Rose State; it feels like one important phase of our lives as parents is closing even as other roles and ways of being together are emerging.  Although you wouldn't tell it from the gray in my beard, it feels like spring in my life.

This Mother's Day I am going to try to get a picture of them with Gertrude just for old time's sake.   Wish me luck.  It may take a bit of work to get them together but I'm hopeful even if a bit sentimental.


  1. Very nice read, Rev. I am right with you about being sentimental. Thanks!

  2. I love this post! You are so right about roses! They are the memories of our lives. I can remember my mother’s roses in old photos from when I was a child. My own roses are often in the background of our family photos. Thank you for sharing so many lovely moments.

  3. What a wonderful look back, and how nice to have a family photo together. Congratulations on raising two wonderful children. I hope if you get them together this Mother's Day they can wear little rose pins (I loved reading about that tradition!), and pose in front of Gertrude Jekyll. I think your idea of pegging her is fabulous.

  4. Nice family Rev! And thanks for the rose stem closeups. Now I'm going to have to run out tonight and check my (supposed) Gertrude Jeykll. It was misidentified when I bought it and I've always thought it was Gertrude but I need to compare the thorns...don't think mine is that thorny.