Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I no longer have a rose garden. How romantic I thought, roses filling vases and scenting the air of the house all summer. A dream of having a garden filled with Gallica roses, English roses, Heirloom roses and rose that would climb to the top of the trellis with their blossoms cascading over, just waiting to be noticed.

It was pure joy for me, and an enormous amount of work, mostly for James, digging the garden beds out of the hard pack and clay in order to bring in real soil and compost all by hand, a shovel, a pick axe and wheelbarrow. It was nothing short of heroic, but by summer's end James had made a garden possible in an area that had once been a driveway.

 We researched and found specialty rose growers in New Hampshire and Maine where we traveled to purchase roses with names like, 'Great Maiden's Blush', 'Apothecary's Rose' and 'Rosa Mundi'.
Discovering the roses was an adventure that was an added pleasure to the creation of this circular formal garden. As it matured the fragrance and beauty especially in June was  all I ever imagined.

Roses were cut and filled vases, sometimes solo other times mixed with perennials from the border garden. James painted the roses. Rosa Mundi was a favorite of his, both because of it's striking color and the story behind the name having to do with King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry's mistress Fair Rosamund and her demise by Eleanor, poison it is thought.
Roses are the subjects of artists and poets with their  stories told of beauty and thorny darkness. Roses are a  sonnet written by the hand of Shakespeare.

In late May and through June the garden and house were full of roses. I dried the fragrant petals that lightly perfumed closets and drawers and filled small bowls on bedroom nightstands.
But, by the Fourth of July things began to change in the garden. Morning walks were no longer with a cup of coffee in hand, but with a can filled with soapy water.
The Japanese Beetles had arrived.

It took about a decade of the waging the battle of the beetle, but the beetle eventually won.
It was too heartbreaking to watch them chomp away at the lovely young beautiful buds. The clusters of nightmarish gluttons were impossible to keep up with and the only alternative was to use poisons to kill the nasty invaders....but it would also kill the bees.

It was time to bid farewell to the roses. It was a difficult goodbye for me.
That fall we spend removing roses. In the spring the soil was replenished and boxwood were planted at the edge of the beds along with herbs.
The new garden worked and since we love to cook the herbs made sacrificing roses a little easier.The lavender for fragrance and all the culinary herbs for the kitchen.
And, no Japanese Beetles!

We have since moved, yet.....

 I will always remember those early summer morning walks in the garden and the lingering perfume of the roses.

An Invitation to a garden in Umbria.....the gardener's passion....roses.
Our visit there coming up!

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