Spaghetti Sauce, Pickles & Roses

When Tina and I first married, every Friday night was spent at her parents’ house for “Spaghetti Night”. It is an event that caught on and now Spaghetti Night has been a tradition that has endured in our family for more than 30 years. Spaghetti, French bread, salad and her Mama’s signature chocolate chess pies has been the menu. It was and is a time to catch up on the week’s events and to laugh and fellowship and enjoy the company of close family and friends. Since moving to Birmingham, we have missed those family dinners. We now enjoy our own Birmingham version which brings me to the subject of Spaghetti Sauce jars and roses.
Earlier this year, I began asking Tina to save the empty spaghetti sauce jars for me. At first, she thought I had lost my mind. “What in the world do you want with all these jars?” I just smiled and said “you’ll see”…Soon, my collections of spaghetti sauce and also a few pickle jars were taking up an entire shelf in our pantry.
When spring and summer arrived, I began filling them with blooms and delivering them to friends, neighbors and co-workers. I presented one of my “jar bouquets” to someone I work with; she cried and said in her 54 years upon the earth, no one had ever brought her flowers. It just goes to prove that you never know what people are going through and something as small as a pickle jar full of back yard grown blooms can bring a moment of pure joy to someone’s life.I don’t think I will think of pickles or spaghetti in the same way again.

As I write this, I am amazed at the beauty of our fall blooms. The colors seem more intense and more beautiful than earlier blooms. I think I have just enough jars to get me through the final bloom cycle of the year. As much as I miss our Spaghetti dinners in Nashville, I wouldn’t trade the moments of joy and friendship that sharing a rose in Birmingham brings.

Roses really do bring out the best in people; I know growing them has
brought out the best in me….


About Chris VanCleave - America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Christopher R. VanCleave – America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at and on his popular website;, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years’ experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticultural societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.
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16 Responses to Spaghetti Sauce, Pickles & Roses

  1. audrey says:

    >I just love ya'll! I have a bag of jars for you too, but am thrilled to say I was finally able to have my own bloom give aways and you might not get these jars after all.


  2. audrey says:

    >I must say that the bag of jars I have for you I've robbed twice because I have enough blooms to give away! HOO HOO!!!!


  3. boromax says:

    >What a delightful story, thru and thru! Every detail is touching, but the part about your coworker who had never received flowers!!!??? Wow. And of course your blooms and your pics of them are fabulous!


  4. >Oh WOW… look at all of those gorgeous roses! I love the way you have them displayed in the "spaghetti" jars…. great idea BTW!!What a sweet story about your co-worker… you never really know what people are going through. ~ Jo 🙂


  5. Kim says:

    >Ahhhh – that's really sweet – just wish I could grow enough flowers to do the same! 🙂


  6. >That is just so sweet of you. Doesn't it feel good to think you made someones day so bright with your jar bouquets?You and the better half have a wonderful weekend.


  7. >Inspired by your beautiful roses I have begun a Sunday rose post. The roses come from the Tulsa Municipal Rose Garden rather than my back yard, but they are beautiful just the same.


  8. >Chris: You certainly grow beautiful roses.


  9. SandyCarlson says:

    >Beautiful jars that keep such beauty down home. I do the same thing. In fact, I buy Classico just because I like the jars!


  10. >Hi,Thanks for stopping by my blog. It was good timing, because I love this post! I save jars, too, but we don't go through as many as you do. I used to buy vases when priced right at garage sales, thinking I was going to give people flowers in them, but I have gotten so I rarely pick flowers for bouquets. Maybe I'll make a better effort next year, knowing how well it went for you. It looks like we know some of the same bloggers, too.


  11. >This is the loveliest post. I adore that you all continue your Spaghetti Nights. And who wouldn't swoon over a jar of your beautiful roses? Generous, beautiful hearts in your home.


  12. tbrose says:

    Great story… old traditions and now new ones in spaghetti jars.


  13. Beautiful post Chris and I’m happy Tina has been saving all those jars for you, so you both can brighten someones day. A kind word and a simple gesture like a Spaghetti or pickle jar filled with fresh cut blooms can truly be life changing. Kudos and I am honored to be in the garden with you both! Annie


  14. That would such a wonderful story Chris! I especially liked the part where you co-worker was receving flowers for the first time! It just goes to show that simple, random acts of kindness are always appreciated. Thanks for sharing Spaghetti Nights with us. Old and new traditions bring joy to the heart!


  15. Lara Lewis says:

    Beautiful story! I agree..roses should be shared. This post is an inspiration. 🙂


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