Roses lined the fence of the backyard of our family home on Eastern Avenue in Riggs Park, DC. My dad planted them for my mom. I remember my mom cutting small bouquets that she placed throughout our home. “This is Mr. Lincoln”, she often said, “Isn’t the color amazing?” Even now, I hear mom’s joy-filled voice. The rich red blooms of this rose captured my heart. I knew a rose garden was in my future.
One year I saved the petals of almost finished blooms, placed them in a box, and saved them for the next Mother’s Day. I realized that my mom adored this rose and I wanted to capture the smell in a box. The dry, crumbled petals did not look the same when she opened the box. Seeing my disappointment, she held the box to her nose and smiled. I made my mom smile and I wasn’t in trouble for collecting the petals. Roses became magical vessels that held the power of making people smile. This was the beginning of realizing my long-lasting love affair with roses.
I purchased roses every week for any apartment I lived in and strategically placed them throughout. Some of the roses had a gentle scent, others had a strong fragrance that permeated the air. I began researching roses to find the specific rose that would be my Mr. Lincoln. My research on roses simply made me fall deeper in love with this shrub. Single petal bloom, heirlooms, tea, and antique roses were all beautiful to me. The double-blooming, highly fragranced roses were at the top of my list. It was when I discovered Margo Koster’s rose that the love affair really began.
My Elusive Love
Margo Koster has multi-petaled blooms, which makes up for the lack of fragrance. In my mind, Margo Koster had to be in my garden. This proved to be quite a task, as she was always sold out. I looked for this rose for many years and have yet to have a little Margo in my garden. Meeting Margo Koster in pictures was like a blind date, which would never happen. Proving to be elusive, I discovered heirloom roses.
My first choice was “Iceberg”. It would add a touch of bright white to my flower border. The subtle fragrance would allow me to place mini vases throughout my house. The clean foliage on the Iceberg rose is rarely bothered by disease. I found joy in having roses without using chemicals. Iceberg was only the beginning of this phase in my love affair with heirloom roses.
Earlier this year I was in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Old City Cemetery is well known for its sale each Spring and summer display of the finest heirloom roses in Lynchburg. As luck would have it, the rose sale was the same weekend I was visiting. Lucky me. I found a few old favorites like Felicite Et Perpetue and Blush Noisette. I could envision Felicite Et Perpetue rambling with total abandon in a space of her own. Blush Noisette had to find a home in my garden to celebrate my South Carolinian roots. The clove-like scent is something I would welcome upon entering a room.
Although I did not plan on three roses coming home with me, I could not leave behind an old friend. La Reine Victoria whispered to me and reminded me of my Virginia garden. The sensually sweet scent instantly captured my heart. The bud was like Margo Koster, yet uniquely different. As the bowl-shaped buds opened into voluptuous flowers, the color drew me in. La Reine Victoria was an integral part of my Fredericksburg garden. It seemed only fitting to add these three roses to my rose garden.
The symbolism of the Peace rose and the mission of the Negro Garden Clubs of Virginia is quite meaningful. In-person attendees of the first Ethel Day celebration were delighted to find a Peace and Love Rose as a gift, courtesy of Bailey Nurseries. Hosted at the Ann Spencer House and Garden Museum, these roses were quite the hit with our guests. What better memento of a magnificent event than a rose?
Roses – Right on Time
I could go on about the roses in my life that have come and gone. There are a few new roses that helped get me through the past few years. While inside authoring books in 2021, Proven Winners Oso Easy roses were there for me. At Last, is the rose that still makes me gasp when it is in bloom. The Apricot color just touches my inner soul. This rose will always find a home in my garden.
The surprise roses were from the Oso Easy Line. I received Hot Paprika at a conference a few years ago. It has never failed to provide virtually non-stop. The rose provides fewer blooms in the heat of the summer. When the temperatures begin to cool down, Hot Paprika lights up my rear garden to close out the summer.
I have Oso Easy Italian Ice and a few others that made me smile inside when going outside was not an option. If you love roses and crave ongoing beauty without the fuss, consider trying an Oso Easy Rose. I bet you cannot stop at just one!
Recently, I was a guest on Rosechat. It was an amazing time chatting with Teresa Byington about my book, Black Flora and roses of course. It was hard deciding which rose I have a crush on right now. There are so many to choose from and I have room. Perhaps it is time for me to try a David Austin – Generous Gardener …or anything David Austin. I do not think this love affair will end anytime soon (Have you seen their 2023 catalog?) I just checked their website…it is out of stock. Yet another elusive rose…
Dreaming of my next rose acquisition as I renovate my garden, one side at a time.
Teri, Cottage in the Courtby